News & Politics

Republicans in Congress Will Conduct Their Own Investigation Into COVID-19 Origins

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

With China still stonewalling the entire world about the origins of the coronavirus, Congress wants to put some pressure on Beijing by conducting a review of what U.S. agencies have discovered about the origins of the virus. In fact, there have been several investigations by intelligence agencies and public health organizations asking a wide range of questions about the virus’s origins.

Republicans in Congress are demanding that all government agencies come clean and inform the American people of what they’ve found.

“Understanding the cause of this pandemic — and ensuring that something like it never happens again — is the most important question facing the world today,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) wrote in a letter Wednesday to Anthony S. Fauci. “Given the stakes, we cannot afford to settle for a limited, blinkered, or politicized understanding of the origin of this terrible disease.”

In a Washington Post opinion piece Josh Rogin wrote:

For a variety of reasons, no credible investigation into the origins of the coronavirus that continues to plague the world has taken place. Beijing has spent more than a year covering up the origin and punishing any country that dares call for an independent investigation. Chinese authorities undermined the WHO investigation so thoroughly that even WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admitted that its team did not properly investigate the possibility of a lab accident origin and that more work needed to be done.

The lab accident theory is still alive despite efforts by China to destroy it. What they can’t destroy is information on how the U.S. funded research at the Wuhan lab, where it is believed that Chinese scientists were engaged in “gain of function” experiments with the virus. Basically, a gain-of-function experiment takes a very bad bug and tries to turn it into an extremely dangerous bug. The research itself is perfectly legal, but why did the National Institutes of Health feel it necessary to fund such research in Wuhan?

The Republican leader of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and two other leading Republicans, wrote to Blinken on Thursday, requesting that he release all documents related to factual claims that the Trump administration State Department made in a Jan. 15 statement — including an assertion that the Wuhan lab was concealing its work with the Chinese military and that several researchers came down with covid-like symptoms in the fall of 2019. The Biden administration confirmed these claims — but the Wuhan scientists deny them. That means that one side is lying.

Which side would that be? The side whose mouth is moving. Indeed, trusting any information from agencies whose funding of the Wuhan lab may have led directly to a worldwide pandemic is probably not a good idea.

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee wrote in March to NIH Director Francis Collins, as well as in April to EcoHealth Alliance’s Peter Daszak, the closest collaborator and the fiercest defender of the Wuhan lab, demanding extensive records about their research and collaborations. Collins, Fauci and Daszak have not responded to congressional inquiries nor to my requests for comment.

Daszak was part of the blue-ribbon WHO team that went to China and hit a brick wall. The Chinese wouldn’t allow them access to medical records from the first Covid patients nor would they let them interview lab workers in private. And yet, Daszak insisted the virus couldn’t have originated in the Wuhan lab. The fact that his EcoHealth Alliance may be “directly implicated” in the Covid outbreak should raise a few questions.

Independent Science News:

These leadership positions are not the only reason why Peter Daszak is such a central figure in the COVID-19 pandemic, however. His appointment dismayed many of those who are aware that Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance funded bat coronavirus research, including virus collection, at the Wuhan Institute for Virology (WIV) and thus could themselves be directly implicated in the outbreak.

For his part, Daszak has repeatedly dismissed the notion that the pandemic could have a lab origin. In fact, a recent FOIA by the transparency group U.S. Right To Know revealed that Peter Daszak drafted an influential multi-author letter published on February 18 in the Lancet. That letter dismissed lab origin hypothesese as “conspiracy theory.” Daszak was revealed to have orchestrated the letter such as to “avoid the appearance of a political statement.”

The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies certainly have uncovered information in their investigations that citizens should know about. Some kind of edited report could be released without disclosing sources and methods.

All this might lead to a series of specific, intelligent, questions we could ask the Chinese. Given their level of cooperation in discovering the origins of the coronavirus so far, the outlook for that to change is bleak.