(USA Features) A newly-issued report from Republican lawmakers claims that there is a “preponderance of evidence” to strongly suggest that COVID-19 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China rather than mutating naturally from a bat, as first suspected.
Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee point to evidence of a lab leak in their report along with genetic modification, and a resultant cover-up in concluding that the virus accidentally emerged from the lab.
The report states that “the preponderance of evidence suggests SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally released from a Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory sometime prior to September 12, 2019,” and “the virus, or the viral sequence that was genetically manipulated, was likely collected in a cave in Yunnan province, PRC, between 2012 and 2015.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have been tasked by President Joe Biden to report on the origins of the virus. The intelligence community has yet to submit the findings.
The report goes on to say that Wuhan lab scientists, Chinese Communist Party officials, and “potentially American citizens” all “directly engaged in efforts to obfuscate information related to the origins of the virus and to suppress public debate of a possible lab leak.”
The leader of the Republican’s China Task Force, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, previously released a report in September alleging a China cover-up that also contained a number of serious concerns regarding the Wuhan lab.
“I do think it’s more likely than not that it emerged out of the lab — most likely accidentally — for several reasons. … It was just declassified that three of the researchers were actually hospitalized in November of 2019 with flu-like symptoms consistent with COVID. That was suppressed by the Chinese Communist Party,” McCaul said told CNN’s Jake Tapper in May.
“Since that time in December, they silenced and detained the doctors who were reporting a SARS-like virus, which under international health regulations had to be reported within 24 hours. They went and destroyed lab samples,” he added.
“They wouldn’t admit it was human-to-human [transmission]. And then, working with the WHO, failed to report to the world that we had a local epidemic that was now going into a global pandemic. So time and time again, we’re seeing this cover-up,” he said.
The latest report “outlines evidence that points to the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the source of the outbreak, and outlines some of the many steps researchers at the WIV along with Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance took to cover up the research being done there.”
In addition, it “breaks down how scientific papers written by researchers at the WIV not only prove the WIV was doing dangerous genetic modification research on coronaviruses at unsafe biosafety levels, but also that WIV researchers had the ability to genetically modify coronaviruses as early as 2016 without leaving any trace of that modification.”
McCaul says he thinks the time has come to “completely dismiss” the theory that the virus emerged from a Wuhan wet market, as initially reported.
“We know gain-of-function research was happening at the WIV and we know it was being done in unsafe conditions,” he said. ‘
“We also now know the head of the Chinese CDC and the director of the WIV’s Biosafety Level-4 lab publicly expressed concerns about safety at PRC labs in the summer of 2019. It is our belief the virus leaked sometime in late August or early September 2019,” the Texas Republican added.
“When they realized what happened, Chinese Communist Party officials and scientists at the WIV began frantically covering up the leak, including taking their virus database offline in the middle of the night and requesting more than $1 million for additional security,” he continued.
“But their cover-up was too late — the virus was already spreading throughout the megacity of Wuhan. Within a month, satellite images show a significant uptick in the number of people at hospitals around the WIV with symptoms similar to COVID-19,” said McCaul, referencing data contained in the new report.
“At the same time, athletes at the Military World Games became sick with symptoms similar to COVID-19. Some of them carried the virus back to their home countries — creating one of the earliest super spreader events in the world.”
The report speculates that researchers at the lab inadvertantly caught the virus and then spread it when they traveled to and from work.
The GOP lawmakers said the report “lays out ample evidence that researchers at the WIV, in conjunction with U.S. scientists and funded by both the PRC government and the U.S. government, were conducting gain-of-function research on coronaviruses at the WIV.”
The conclusion is that there is “ample proof that the virus could have been genetically manipulated.”