House Republicans are demanding the U.S. State Department disclose documents related to a January statement on the origins of the novel Wuhan coronavirus.
Lawmakers pinned their request on a January statement from the agency accusing the Chinese military of secret collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), where researchers fell ill with COVID-like symptoms in 2019 just before the global pandemic. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has denied such claims confirmed by the Biden administration. Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee demanded to see the evidence.
“As leaders on the Congressional Committee with jurisdiction over public health, we strongly support a comprehensive investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the possibility of an accidental laboratory leak,” lawmakers wrote, led by the committee chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
The only comprehensive study on COVID-19’s origin, the first known outbreak of which hit Wuhan in the Hubei province of central China, has been conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO). The report, however, was undermined by China, which continues to blur the virus’s origin and condemn other nations that demand an independent and thorough investigation. Even WHO General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admitted more research needs to be conducted.
House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee gave Secretary of State Anthony Blinken until May 20 to declassify and release all unclassified documents related to the agency’s Jan. 15 assertion of concealed collaboration between the Chinese military and the WIV.
“Any credible investigation into COVID-19 origins must include an examination of the laboratory leak hypothesis,” lawmakers wrote. WIV has remained of particular interest in coronavirus origin theories among U.S. officials and WHO investigators alike.
The letter from the House Energy and Commerce Committee follows another from Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, who made an inquiry to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday. NIAID and its umbrella organization, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fund research between U.S. scientists and the Wuhan lab suspected of giving birth to the coronavirus.
While Fauci has repeatedly downplayed the idea COVID-19 could have emerged from the Wuhan lab, Gallagher has demanded information related to U.S. funding of and support for the overseas facility.
“Understanding the cause of this pandemic — and ensuring that something like it never happens again — is the most important question facing the world today,” Gallagher wrote. “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.”