Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee say there is “significant circumstantial evidence” that the COVID-19 outbreak stemmed from a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
They are urging the federal government to put “more pressure on China” to allow for a “full, credible investigation” into the source of the global pandemic. Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Republicans on the panel released a report Wednesday, first obtained by Fox News, saying it is “crucial for health experts and the U.S. government to understand how the COVID-19 virus originated” to prevent “or quickly mitigate” any possible future pandemics. “International efforts to discover the true source of the virus, however, have been stymied by a lack of cooperation from the People’s Republic of China,” Republicans wrote. “Nevertheless, significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
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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.” They 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.”
Committee Republicans also claimed there are “clear signs” that U.S. government agencies and academic institutions “may have funded or collaborated in Gain of Function research” at the Wuhan Lab, claiming that research “was published even after the U.S. government had paused these kinds of studies in the United States due to ethical concerns over their biowarfare applicability and their potential to accidentally unleash a pandemic. “To protect American citizens from future pandemics, the U.S. Government must place more pressure on China to allow full, credible investigations of the source of the COVID-19 pandemic and to allow probes of the likelihood that it resulted from a lab leak,” the report states. “The U.S. Government must also provide a full accounting of any American cooperation with the Wuhan lab’s coronavirus research, including the support of these projects through U.S. Government funds” [MSN].
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: FORBES