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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken told "Axios on HBO" the Biden administration is determined to "get to the bottom" of COVID-19's origins, and said the U.S. will hold China accountable.

Why it matters: "The most important reason we have to get to the bottom of this is that's the only way we're going to be able to prevent the next pandemic or at least do a better job in mitigating it," he said during a wide-ranging interview in the State Department's Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room.

  • Blinken said China still hasn't "given us the transparency we need," access for international inspectors and experts, or real-time information sharing.
  • "That has to happen," he added. "(A)t the end of the day, it's profoundly in China's interest to do this, as well."
  • Blinken said that if China "purports to be a responsible international actor," it will have "to do everything it can to provide all the information it has to make sure we can hopefully prevent this from happening again."

On U.S. companies doing business with China, Blinken said it's "very important" they not "aid and abet ... China's ability to use surveillance technology to repress its own people, or to export that technology to allow other autocratic or authoritarian governments from doing the same thing."

  • In an executive order issued Friday, President Biden expanded the list of Chinese companies whose shares are off-limits to American investors because of connections to China's "military-industrial complex."
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Go deeper

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up — Team USA to mandate vaccine for Winter Olympic hopefuls — U.S. to buy 500 million more Pfizer doses to share with the world.
  2. Health: Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban — D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Sep 14, 2021 - Health

Maryland Zoo to vaccinate certain animals against COVID

One-month-old white Bengal tiger is vaccinated on July 29, 2021 in Nantong, Jiangsu Province of China. Photo: Xu Peiqin/VCG via Getty Images.

The Maryland Zoo announced Tuesday that it will begin vaccinating certain animals that have been proven to be vulnerable to COVID-19.

Details: The vaccine, which has been specifically modified for animals, will be administered to "North American river otters, the chimpanzees and our cat species – Amur leopard, cheetah, bobcat, and lion," according to the announcement.

Blinken says U.S. doesn't know who was killed in Kabul drone strike

Facing scrutiny from a Senate panel Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted that he doesn't know if the U.S. mistakenly targeted an aid worker in a drone strike in Kabul that reportedly killed 10 Afghan civilians.

Driving the news: The U.S. is still investigating the strike, and maintains it "was taken to prevent an imminent threat to the airport," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday. "We do work very hard to avoid civilian casualties, and we would be deeply saddened by any loss of innocent life.”