Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are demanding President Joe Biden and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines provide more information on the origins of COVID-19, claiming that new evidence has emerged that appears to show the virus first originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab.
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, accompanying a signature from the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
“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.
Republican senators have also been pressing for more information about the origins of the virus. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci last week on the issue. Paul asked Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH and top adviser to president Biden, if the NIH supported funding the Wuhan Institute. Fauci denied the claim.
“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect … the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute,” Fauci said. “You are saying things that are not correct.”
Paul also asked Fauci if he could “categorically say that the COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage in a laboratory?”
“I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done, and I am fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China,” Fauci answered. “However, I will repeat again, the NIH and NIAID categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
“Gain-of-function research” is when scientists modify a pathogen to make it more deadly or infectious in order to study how to battle it. Rumors have long swirled that the virus somehow escaped from the Wuhan lab, though a number of experts have denied the claim. “But again, we have not funded gain-of-function research on this virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology no matter how many times you say it,” Fauci said. “It didn’t happen.”
But Fauci did agree with Paul that more investigations should take place to determine the origin of the virus.
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