President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023, initiating the process to declassify intelligence gathered on the origin of the pandemic on Monday.
The legislation, which the House unanimously voted to send to the president’s desk earlier this month, was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate last year. The bill, entitled the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023, calls on the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to “declassify any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin” of the coronavirus that sparked the years-long pandemic.
The legislation also mandates that the DNI declassify any link between the People’s Liberation Army and the virus as well as any “coronavirus research or other related activities perforated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.”
Additionally, DNI is asked to provide a list of researchers who are known to the intelligence community to have worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and fell ill during the autumn of 2019.
In a statement issued with his signing of the bill, President Biden insisted that — despite the administration wavering for weeks on whether he would sign the bill — the disclosure of this information was crucial to the American people.
“We need to get to the bottom of COVID-19’s origins to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics,” the statement reads. “My Administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In implementing this legislation, my Administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is instructed to redact only information that would “protect sources and methods.”