Officials from both the Trump and Biden administrations have said the Chinese government worked for over a year to thwart an independent investigation into the origins of the virus. Both administrations cast doubt on the manner in which a joint study from China and the World Health Organization was conducted earlier this year. Though the WHO-China report said a jump from animals to humans was most likely, numerous Trump officials have pointed to an accidental escape from the Wuhan lab as a highly plausible, or the most likely, origin for the pandemic.
Led by Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the 21-page Republican report, In Focus: COVID-19 and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, laid out what the congressmen saw as the case for considering a leak from a Wuhan lab.
It assessed that the Wuhan lab was secretly working with the Chinese military and conducting gain-of-function research and pointed to the possibility that U.S. funding may have ended up helping the lab with those experiments.
“The threads of circumstantial information suggest the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 and resulting COVID-19 pandemic could have been the result of an accidental leak from the WIV, particularly given the absence of credible information that supports a zoonotic transmission,” the House GOP report concluded. “Unfortunately, Beijing has hindered the conduct of a full, credible investigation. There is overwhelming circumstantial evidence, however, to support a lab leak as the origination of COVID-19, while there is no substantive evidence supporting the natural zoonosis hypothesis.”
A State Department fact sheet released in mid-January contended Wuhan lab researchers “conducted experiments involving RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar)” and that the lab “has a published record of conducting ‘gain-of-function’ research to engineer chimeric viruses.” The fact sheet added the lab “has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military.”
The Republican report said that “to prevent or quickly mitigate future pandemics, it’s crucial for health experts and the U.S. Government to understand how the COVID-19 virus originated” but efforts have been “stymied” by China.
“Nevertheless, significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID19 outbreak may have been a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” the GOP report claimed, listing what it saw as some of the evidence, including:
- China’s “history of research lab leaks” resulting in infections
- Multiple “warnings from U.S. diplomats in China as early as 2017 that the Wuhan lab was conducting dangerous research on coronaviruses without following necessary safety protocols” that risked a potential outbreak
- “Gain of Function research being conducted at the Wuhan lab that made coronaviruses more infectious in humans”; evidence that “several researchers at Wuhan lab were sickened with COVID-19-like symptoms” in the autumn of 2019
- The “involvement in the Wuhan lab of the Chinese military, which has a documented biological weapons program”
- “Multiple indications of attempts by Beijing to cover up the true circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The House GOP said that “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 humans,” including the fact that “Chinese authorities have failed to identify the original species that allegedly spread the virus to humans, which is critical to their zoonotic transfer theory.”
In March, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO, said the joint team had not fully investigated the potential of COVID-19 originating through an accidental leak from a Wuhan lab, a hypothesis that he insisted needed further study despite it being deemed “extremely unlikely” by the team, which claimed the most likely origin was a jump from animal to animal to human.
The Nunes-led report added: “There are also clear signs that U.S. Government agencies and academic institutions may have funded or collaborated in Gain of Function research at the Wuhan lab. At least some of this research was published even after the U.S. Government had paused these kinds of studies in the United States due to ethical concerns over their biowarfare applicability and their potential to accidentally unleash a pandemic … Given the Chinese government’s documented biological weapons program, it is difficult to understand why the U.S. Government permitted collaborative research at the WIV, which had a known Chinese military presence.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci has been adamant that the National Institutes of Health did not fundgain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab, but he also admitted he doesn’t actually knowwhat the Chinese lab has been up to.