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Biden Pushes for Viral Investigation

President Joe Biden has instructed US intelligence agencies to increase their efforts investigating the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In a statement, President Biden says a recent report from the intelligence community has coalesced around two different origin scenarios: human contact with an infected animal or a laboratory accident. He adds, though, that they have not reached a definitive conclusion. "I have now asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days," President Biden says.

A recent investigation led by the World Health Organization into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 concluded it likely arose in bats and that the "lab leak" theory was "extremely unlikely." The US and others, though, noted that the investigators had limited access to needed data and that a more transparent investigation was needed.

As NPR notes, the lab leak theory was particularly pushed by former President Donald Trump, even as most experts say a natural origin is more likely. "I feel the likelihood is still high that this is a natural occurrence," Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and White House chief medical advisor, told Congress, according to NPR, "but since we cannot know 100 percent whether it is or is not, other possibilities exist and for that reason, I and my colleagues have been saying that we're very much in favor of a further investigation."

The Scan

Transplant Tests Edited Pig Kidneys

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UK Changes Some Gene-Edited Crop Rules

A new law may enable gene-edited crops to be sold in the UK within about five years, New Scientist says.

Pill Works Against Omicron in Lab

Pfizer's antiviral pill to treat SARS-CoV-2 appears to work against the Omicron variant, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Nature Papers Find Genetic Risk Factor for Smell, Taste Loss in COVID-19; Analyze TB Granulomas

In Nature this week: genome-wide association study find locus linked to the risk COVID-19 patients losing their sense of taste or smell, and more.