EDITORIAL: Find the truth about the origins of COVID-19

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Jun. 1—Though the coronavirus has killed more than 3 million people, including nearly 600,000 in the United States, we still know virtually nothing about how it started.

That's why President Joe Biden's decision to finally get to the bottom of COVID's origin is so important.

Biden ordered American intelligence agencies to determine whether the virus originated in animals and spread to humans or may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory.

Those two theories have emerged as the most likely among U.S. intelligence agencies, although there isn't enough known to reach a solid conclusion.

An earlier investigation by the World Health Organization said it was extremely unlikely the virus was released from a lab. But the WHO investigation was riddled with problems, particularly China's unwillingness to grant access to Wuhan or the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Early last week Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urged a follow-up by WHO. But the next day Biden announced the probe to be done by American intelligence agencies.

The administration's unsteady approach to seeking the truth about the origin of the virus is likely tied to a hesitancy to raise an issue that could cause explosive complications with U.S.-Chinese relations. It's also likely due to a reluctance to raise an idea promoted by former President Donald Trump — that the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab.

It was easy to dismiss Trump, who spent four years lying and demonizing other countries while in office. But American intelligence agencies and other scientists have apparently found enough information to support the possibility of a lab escape.

Getting to the truth will not be easy. China has no reason to begin cooperating, especially with the United States. China's Communist Party has been on a long mission to try to convince the world communism, not democracy, is the best path forward. That effort would be badly damaged if they were found culpable in releasing the virus.

While the United States should use all of its resources to seek an answer, WHO member states should also assemble the resources needed to launch a more in-depth probe.

Difficult or not, finding the truth about the origins of a virus that devastated the globe is vital.

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