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Catherine Mortensen / May 20, 2021

The Uphill Battle to Learn COVID Origins

Republicans in Congress are struggling to find answers to the source of virus.

As Americans begin to slowly emerge from the government’s COVID restrictions, members of Congress are demanding to know the origins of the virus but face an administration that is not forthcoming.

Representatives Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Bill Posey (R-FL) are leading the fight for transparency in the House. In the Senate, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has been outspoken in his efforts to get answers about the possibility that U.S. taxpayers funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, along with fellow Republicans on the committee, sent letters late last week to President Joe Biden and Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence, pushing them to declassify intelligence related to the Wuhan lab, carry out a full investigation into the origins of COVID-19, and release information about any U.S. funding for the Wuhan lab.

“I want to call to your attention the fact that U.S. government funds — whether directly or indirectly — are supporting dangerous dual-use scientific research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Our findings, though incomplete, suggest the United States supported such work despite clear evidence of the People’s Liberation Army’s involvement at the WIV,” Nunes wrote to Biden.

In their letter to Haines the Republicans wrote:

As Members of Congress responsible for overseeing U.S. intelligence agencies, we believe the IC [intelligence community] failed to properly support policymakers with timely products and analysis. Further, the IC 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.

Nunes revealed he sent the letters during an appearance on “Sunday Morning Futures” on Fox News. On the show, he spoke about COVID-19’s origins, arguing, “There’s building circumstantial evidence that indeed this did come from a lab and indeed likely there was money that flowed from the U.S. government through nonprofits that was actually supporting this type of research that was going on in China.”

A November 2017 study on bat-to-human COVID transmission coauthored by the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan lab, Dr. Shi Zheng-li, was “jointly funded by … the National Institutes of Health.”

However, in questioning from Senator Paul on May 11, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated, “[The] NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

When Paul asked if “COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage [a method of creating a virus] in a laboratory,” Dr. Fauci stated, “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.” He added, “However, I will repeat, the NIH … categorically has not funded gain of function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

All of which raises questions about whether Dr. Fauci is being fully forthcoming to Congress as it attempts to conduct oversight, as members raise questions about what role both the Wuhan Institute and federal funding could have played in the pandemic, if any. If it is even possible that the virus came from a lab, then the American people have a right to know what really happened.

To get answers, U.S. Representative Bill Posey (R-FL) is proposing HR 834, which would create a bipartisan commission to look at the origins of the virus. In a February 26 op-ed in the Washington Examiner, Posey argued, “To find these answers and to holistically address the numerous problems that the pandemic has revealed, Congress should establish a bipartisan commission to obtain a full account of the events of the pandemic and provide guidance for future actions. We must resolve to know with the greatest degree of certainty the origins of the virus, what steps could have been taken to slow its spread, lessons learned from lockdowns, developing effective therapies and vaccines, pandemic preparedness, and importantly, how we can best prevent such pandemics in the future.”

If you would like to send an email to your member of Congress asking them to cosponsor HR 834, click here.

With more than 3.3 million dead from the virus worldwide and counting, the American people have a right to know if the science they are funding through USAID and the NIH could have created COVID in a laboratory with their tax dollars, or if it simply grew in the wild. This will tell the world whether this type of research is simply too dangerous to continue to be permitted, or if it was essential in developing a vaccine, or both. But saying U.S. tax dollars were not going to Wuhan is not going to fly anymore.

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