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State Department staff warned a Trump-appointed official against investigating COVID-19's origins, fearing a probe would 'open a can of worms,' a leaked memo says

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A worker in protective coverings directs members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team on their arrival at the airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
  • Government staff warned leaders against investigating COVID-19's origins, Vanity Fair reports.

  • State Department official Thomas DiNanno said staff thought a probe would "open a can of worms."

  • The theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab has gained traction in recent weeks.

  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Staff in two US government bureaus warned leaders against pursuing an investigation into the origins COVID-19 because it would "open a can of worms," according to an internal memo viewed by Vanity Fair.

Thomas DiNanno, former acting assistant secretary of the State Department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, said in the January 9 memo that staff in two bureaus told managers "not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19," per Vanity Fair.

DiNanno, appointed by former President Donald Trump, said in the memo that his team had faced "apprehension and contempt" from technical staff, and a "complete lack of responses to briefings and presentations" on the matter.

DiNanno was responding to a memo from Chris Ford, acting undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security.

The staff who raised the concerns were from DiNanno's bureau and the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, DiNanno said in the memo.

The theory that COVID-19 leaked from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan has gained traction in recent weeks, but many scientists still dispute its likelihood.

Last month, President Joe Biden ordered intelligence officials to "redouble their efforts" to investigate the virus' origins, and provide a report within 90 days.

Renewed interest in the lab-leak theory came after report by the Wall Street Journal in May, which said that three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology - which studies coronaviruses in bats - went to the hospital in November 2019 with symptoms similar to COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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