Republican lawmakers have long insisted that the government should investigate the theory that the COVID-19 virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Now the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is “possible” the virus was “lab-based.”
The Chinese insist the virus came from a “wet market,” likely from someone eating an infected bat, but plenty of experts have questioned that assertion.
At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked CDC Director Rachel Walensky how she thinks the pandemic began. “I don’t believe I’ve seen enough data, individual data for me to be able to comment on that,” Walensky said.
Kennedy then asked about the “possibilities” on where the virus originated. “Certainly the possibilities of, that most coronaviruses that we know of are of origin from, that have infected the population — SARS CoV-1, MERS —- generally come from an animal origin.”
“Are there any other possibilities?” Kennedy asked.
“Certainly a lab-based origin is one possibility,” Walensky said.
Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are claiming that “significant circumstantial evidence” exists showing COVID-19 first emerged from a leak at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The lawmakers, headed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who is the top Republican on the committee, said in a report obtained by Fox News that China has not cooperated with efforts to find out where the virus originated.
“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,” they wrote in the report. “Nevertheless, significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
The report also said the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military had “involvement” in the lab. The report rejected the long-reported claim that the virus came from bats. “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,” the lawmakers wrote.
On Sunday, Republicans on the committee demanded President Joe Biden and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines provide more information on the origins of COVID-19. In letters to the two officials, the lawmakers say the pair has not been “forthcoming” about “what processes it undertook to make seemingly authoritative statements early in the pandemic about the origins of the virus — conclusions that are now in question. ”
“This casts doubt on the validity of early judgments as well as the analytic integrity of COVID-19-related intelligence reporting,” the lawmakers say in the letter to Haines.
“Republican Members are aware of allegations that the IC suppressed dissenting views related to the origins of the pandemic and that the community relied upon ‘outside’ experts with concerning yet undisclosed entanglements,” the letter states.
“The letter demands that the intelligence community turn over all of its information on COVID-19’s origins, specifically requesting any reporting on a possible ‘collaboration’ between the Wuhan lab and the Chinese military. It asked for any evidence intelligence agencies had to prove coronavirus broke out naturally and originated in animals,” Fox News reported. “It also asked if the intelligence community was involved in any reviews of ‘gain of function’ research, specifically whether it was appropriate to fund such research outside the U.S.”
The lawmakers say they will give Biden and Haines until May 31 to deliver the information.
Joseph Curl covered the White House for a dozen years and ran the Drudge Report for four years. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @JosephCurl.
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