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Facebook's "War Room" in Menlo Park, California, which tackles misinformation. Photo: Noah Berger/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook posts claiming that COVID-19 was "man-made" will no longer be removed, the social media giant announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The lifting of the ban reflects a reinvigorated debate on the origins of the pandemic in recent days, following a Wall Street Journal report that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019 after falling ill.

  • President Biden has asked the U.S. intelligence community to step up efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus and provide a report within 90 days that "could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion."

The big picture: Biden administration officials and others criticized an investigation by a team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization and China's government, that returned inconclusive findings on the pandemic's origins.

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra called for a "transparent, science-based" follow-up investigation during a World Health Assembly meeting on Tuesday.

What they're saying: "In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made from our apps," a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

  • "We're continuing to work with health experts to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge."

Go deeper

May 26, 2021 - Health

HHS chief calls for follow-up investigation into COVID origins

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra during a May news conference at a community heath center in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told a virtual World Health Assembly meeting Tuesday there needs to be a "transparent, science-based" follow-up investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The original investigation by a team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization and China's government returned inconclusive findings in March and was criticized by top officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
May 26, 2021 - Health

CDC: "Breakthrough" COVID-19 cases are rare

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A small fraction of vaccinated Americans experienced "breakthrough" cases of COVID-19, and an even smaller number were hospitalized, new data from the CDC shows.

By the numbers: As of April 30, there were a total of 10,262 breakthrough infections reported across the U.S., when about 101 million Americans had been vaccinated. The majority of those cases (63%) occurred in females and the median patient age was 58 years old.

Updated May 26, 2021 - World

Former Boris Johnson aide gives scathing testimony on U.K.'s early COVID response

Dominic Cummings, the former chief strategist to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, delivered bombshell testimony Wednesday on the British government's early response to the coronavirus, apologizing for falling "disastrously short" in a way that cost thousands of lives.

Why it matters: Cummings, a controversial figure known as the architect behind the Brexit campaign, has become one of Johnson's most troublesome critics since resigning from government after a bitter power struggle last year.