House Republicans are asking for a dose of straight talk from the Biden administration on the subject of the origin of the coronavirus.
“Understanding the cause of this pandemic — and ensuring that something like it never happens again — is the most important question facing the world today,” Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin wrote in a letter to White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Given the stakes, we cannot afford to settle for a limited, blinkered, or politicized understanding of the origin of this terrible disease,” he wrote.
To that end, three Republicans have written Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking for the State Department’s evidence to back up a Jan. 15 assertion that “the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in Wuhan, China collaborated with the Chinese military in conducting classified research, including laboratory animal experiments,” according to Fox News.
The letter is from Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, joined by Reps. Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and H. Morgan Griffith of Virginia.
“The WIV has been a major focus for the U.S. government and the World Health Organization (WHO) in examining the origins of COVID-19 and the possibility of a laboratory leak. In addition, the release of these documents from the Department could help to refute contradictory statements that have been made regarding the possibility of a laboratory leak from the WIV,” the letter from McMorris Rodgers, said.
The letter notes that Blinken has said the cause of the virus must be found, but noted that other reports have indicated the U.S. will not press China on the possibility of a leak from the Wuhan lab.
“Any credible investigation into COVID-19 origins must include an examination of the laboratory leak hypothesis,” the letter said, noting that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “has stated that he supports further investigation into all COVID-19 origin hypotheses, including the laboratory leak hypothesis.”
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“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,” it added.
“Further, the disclosure of unclassified documents and the declassification of any documents regarding connections between the Chinese military and the WIV would help advance a comprehensive investigation into the origins of COVID-19 bringing transparency to this matter and advancing the public’s interest and understanding of the issue.”
Gallagher made a similar point in his letter to Fauci.
“While many in the scientific community were quick to dismiss the possibility that the COVID-19 outbreak originated with a laboratory leak in Wuhan, China, information initially released by the Trump State Department and later confirmed by the Biden administration suggests much closer examination is needed,” Gallagher wrote.
“The State Department has detailed several concerning revelations, including that the U.S. government has reason to believe several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) became sick in autumn 2019 with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, before the first public cases emerged in that community. Viruses have frequently leaked from labs over the years in China and elsewhere, including from accidentally infected researchers,” he wrote.
In the opinion piece in The Post, Josh Rogin said “Republicans are taking the first steps in a long-overdue effort. Their requests for information require no permission from the Chinese government or the WHO.”
Rogin said the U.S. agencies asked for the facts “should have no reason — and no excuse — to ignore these valid and important congressional inquiries. But without backing from Democrats, who are conspicuously absent from these efforts, these investigations will struggle.
“The fact that the origin issue — and especially the lab accident theory — has become politicized is a tragedy. But now, both parties have a responsibility to put politics aside and work together to press governments in Washington and Beijing to disclose everything they know. The longer the delay, the harder the puzzle becomes to solve,” he wrote.
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