Several Republican Members of Congress have launched an investigation to determine if Covid-19 originated through a Wuhan lab leak, something that even Washington Post writers are calling “long overdue.”
“Understanding the cause of this pandemic — and ensuring that something like it never happens again — is the most important question facing the world today. Given the stakes, we cannot afford to settle for a limited, blinkered, or politicized understanding of the origin of this terrible disease,” wrote Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) to Anthony S. Fauci, director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), in a letter on Wednesday.
“We hope your statement about getting to the bottom of the origins of this pandemic includes looking at all possible causes, including the possibility of an accidental leak from a laboratory.”
While Secretary of State Antony Blinken did say last month that “we need to get to the bottom of this,” and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testified that there is a US government investigation into the lab accident origin theory, there is no hard push from the Biden administration to do a “genuine investigation” into the Wuhan Institute of Virology, “which was conducting risky experiments through what is known as ‘gain of function’ research on bat coronaviruses that infect humans.” Hence Republican lawmakers’ efforts to try and ensure the American people are told what US government agencies know about the origins of Covid-19.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Republican leader of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and “two other leading Republicans” wrote on Thursday to Blinken to request “that he release all documents related to factual claims that the Trump administration State Department made in a Jan. 15 statement — including an assertion that the Wuhan lab was concealing its work with the Chinese military and that several researchers came down with covid-like symptoms in the fall of 2019. The Biden administration confirmed these claims — but the Wuhan scientists deny them. That means that one side is lying,” according to the Washington Post.
The opinion piece in the Washington Post states:
“NIAID and its parent organization, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), fund much of the collaborative work between U.S. scientists and the Wuhan lab, including extensive work on bat coronaviruses. The letter asks Fauci, who has repeatedly thrown cold water on the lab accident theory, to hand over all available information on U.S. government funding and support for the Wuhan lab, especially relating to gain of function research. . .
Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee wrote in March to NIH Director Francis Collins, as well as in April to EcoHealth Alliance’s Peter Daszak, the closest collaborator and the fiercest defender of the Wuhan lab, demanding extensive records about their research and collaborations. Collins, Fauci and Daszak have not responded to congressional inquiries nor to my requests for comment.”
Josh Rogin, Washington Post columnist, calls this effort by Republicans “long-overdue” and said that the Chinese government and the WHO do not need to give their permission for such an investigation.
Rogin asserts that “without backing from Democrats. . .these investigations will struggle.” He said that the politicization of the COVID-19 issue is a “tragedy” and that Democrats and Republicans should work together to obtain information from the governments of the US and China.
“It is clear that the NIH and other U.S. agencies don’t want to have their activities investigated. But they must work with Congress to determine whether their research may be connected to the outbreak. Also, current plans are to expand worldwide collaboration on risky virus research sixfold, through the $1.2 billion Global Virome Project,” Rogin states, saying it should be a priority to determine if this research was the source of the COVID-19 pandemic to begin with “before drastically expanding it.”
Rogin ends by adjuring the Biden administration to press the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for “more access to the Wuhan lab” and urging that the investigation continue in the US as much as possible in the meantime.
“It’s in everyone’s interest to keep politics out of it as much as possible, because solving the origin question is an urgent task for the security and public health of the entire world,” he said.