Josh Rogin, a columnist for The Washington Post, slammed the Biden administration and congressional Democrats in a piece this week for not aggressively pursuing investigations into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Biden administration acknowledges that determining the origin of the covid-19 outbreak that has killed almost 600,000 Americans is important — yet so far it has done little to actively advance such an investigation. In fact, the U.S. government is thwarting congressional inquiries while passing the buck to the World Health Organization, which is a recipe for delay and probable failure. This neglect further endangers our national security and public health.
The column came after The Wall Street Journal reported this week that three Chinese researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) were hospitalized in November 2019 with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 right before the first patient was confirmed by Chinese officials.
Rogin noted that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to say during a press conference this week what the Biden administration was willing to do to get to the bottom of the outbreak.
“We are, and we have repeatedly called for the WHO to support an expert-driven evaluation of the pandemic’s origins that is free from interference or politicization,” Psaki said. “And now we’re hopeful that WHO can move into a more transparent, independent phase two investigation.”
The Biden administration putting trust in the WHO, which has been widely criticized for its controversial handling of the pandemic, to conduct an investigation into the pandemic’s origins comes after an “extremely thorough search in China for the natural origin of the virus, which included testing more than 80,000 different animals from across dozens of Chinese provinces, did not find a single case of COVID-19 in nature,” The Washington Examiner reported this week. “Yet the WHO report reached a final conclusion that ‘introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway’ for the pandemic to have begun, despite unearthing virtually nothing that supported the natural origin claims.”
Rogin later continued:
Of course everyone shares the “desire” to solve the covid origin question; that’s not the issue. The question is whether the Biden administration is actually going to do what it can to investigate. So far it seems the Biden team is all talk, no action. In an address to a WHO meeting Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra called for China to allow a full, independent investigation into the origins of the pandemic, but didn’t specify what happens if Beijing refuses. Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser on the coronavirus response, told reporters in Washington on Tuesday this is “a critical priority” for the Biden administration but said, “We need the WHO to assist in that matter.”
If the administration doesn’t want to press China directly or start its own international investigation, the least it can do is cooperate with congressional requests for relevant information that’s in the possession of the U.S. government. But several U.S. government agencies are ignoring or resisting congressional attempts to seek answers. Last week, the National Institutes of Health finally responded to a letter sent in March by Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that requested all of NIH’s records on all its work with the Wuhan labs, including projects involving the contractor EcoHealth Alliance. The two-page response from NIH didn’t answer any of the questions posed by lawmakers. …
But as Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert and microbiologist at Rutgers University, recently tweeted, “Many threads of investigation are available in US and would be accessible to a Congressional inquiry with subpoena power.” But only congressional Democrats hold that power — and they show no intention of using it. Of course, the Biden administration could release the intelligence in its possession and direct its agencies to answer legitimate congressional inquiries right now — but it hasn’t.
CNN reported this week that the Biden administration shut down an investigation launched by the Trump administration into whether the outbreak occurred at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A report from Sharri Markson, an investigative journalist at The Australian, this week revealed new information related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, including a trip taken by WIV director Shi Zhengli to Mozambique in September 2019 to give a presentation on bat coronaviruses and the Wuhan Institute of Virology subsequently taking their virus database offline following the trip. The report also highlighted how a Chinese scientist was booted out of Canada for allegedly shipping deadly viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and how the lab appears to have tried to steal intellectual property for Remdesivir.