US President Joe Biden has signed a bill that requires the declassification of information related to the origins of Covid-19.
Mr Biden said on Monday he shared Congress's goal of releasing as much information as possible about the origin of Covid-19.
“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,” Mr Biden said in a statement.
The bill sailed through the Senate and House of Representatives without opposition before being sent to the White House.
Washington has been engaged in a highly politicised debate about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic almost since the first human cases were reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, amid calls from both Mr Biden's fellow Democrats and Republicans to push back harder against a rising China.
The debate was refuelled last month, when The Wall Street Journal reported that the US Energy Department had assessed that the pandemic had likely been caused by a Chinese laboratory leak — an assessment Beijing denies.
The department made its judgment with “low confidence” in a classified intelligence report.
The FBI has also assessed that the pandemic is likely to have originated from a lab leak. Four other US agencies still believe that Covid-19 was probably the result of natural transmission, while two are undecided.
Many US officials have said the pandemic's origins may never be known. China said claims that a laboratory leak caused the pandemic have no credibility.
Mr Biden noted that he had directed intelligence agencies to investigate Covid-19's origins in 2021, that work is continuing and his administration would continue to review all classified information, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“We need to get to the bottom of Covid-19's origins to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics,” he said.