House Intelligence Republicans say they have "significant circumstantial evidence" that Covid-19 originated in a lab, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to say whether the White House had seen evidence that would disprove the Republicans' point.
"Has the White House seen any circumstantial evidence that it did not originate in the lab?" Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki.
Psaki did not answer directly but called for transparency from the Chinese government.
"First of all, I would caution you against disproving a negative there, which is never the responsible approach in our view, when it when it comes to getting to the bottom of the root causes of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States," Psaki told Doocy.
"I will say that our view continues to be that there needs to be an independent, transparent investigation and that needs to happen with the cooperation and data provided from the Chinese government."
Psaki said the Biden administration has conveyed both publicly and privately that the Chinese government was "not transparent from the beginning."
"There's an opportunity now in the next stage of this effort for them to be transparent, to participate in an international investigation that can bring a conclusion to the origins and provide information that we Republicans, Democrats, everyone in this country would love to have access," she continued.
Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Republicans on the panel released a report Wednesday claiming "significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology."
Republicans pointed to China’s "history of research lab leaks resulting in infections," and warnings from U.S. diplomats in China as early as 2017 that the Wuhan lab was conducting "dangerous research" on coronaviruses without following "necessary safety protocols, risking the accidental outbreak of a pandemic."
Republicans also pointed to public reports that "several researchers in the Wuhan lab were sickened with COVID-19-like symptoms" in Fall 2019, and the Chinese military’s "involvement in the Wuhan Lab."
"By contrast, little circumstantial evidence has emerged to support the PRC’s claim that COVID-19 was a natural occurrence, having jumped from some other species to human," they wrote, saying Chinese authorities "have failed to identify the original species that allegedly spread the virus to humans, which is critical to their zoonotic transfer theory."
The calls for more information come after the White House last month said it believes that China has "not been transparent" in releasing its findings on the origins of COVID-19.
A WHO report in March dismissed claims that COVID-19 had escaped from a lab in Wuhan and instead called the theory of zoonotic transmission, or transfer of infection from animals to humans, "likely to very likely."
The report called for further investigation in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.
The report incurred significant backlash. Even WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the research team’s assessment on whether coronavirus entered the human population as a result of a laboratory incident was not "extensive enough."
Dr. Anthony Fauci has not ruled out the possibility of a lab leak. "I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done, and I'm fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China," he said at a Senate hearing last week.
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.