Joe Biden has called for an international investigation to establish whether Covid-19 leaked from a Chinese laboratory as he tried to rally G7 leaders behind a “competition with autocracies”.
But his remarks about a “lab leak” on Sunday were played down by other leaders and the G7 summit broke up without bridging major rifts over China.
The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States called for the World Health Organisation to convene a “a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based” investigation into the origins of Covid-19, “including in China,” in a joint statement issued after three days of talks on Sunday.
In comments that will infuriate Beijing, Mr Biden said neither he nor US intelligence had reached a conclusion about whether the virus had come from a laboratory but said he wanted to establish a “bottom line” for transparency as part of measures to prevent another pandemic.
“Transparency matters across the board. We haven’t had access to laboratories to determine whether or not… this was a consequence of [the] market place and the interface with animals and the environment, or whether it was an experiment gone awry in a laboratory,” Mr Biden said.