House Republican Report: ‘Preponderance of Evidence’ Shows COVID-19 Leaked from Wuhan Lab

This photo taken on February 6, 2020 shows a laboratory technician working on samples from people to be tested for the new coronavirus at "Fire Eye" laboratory in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. - BGI Group, a genome sequencing company based in southern China, said it opened on February …
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The preponderance of evidence shows that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began its coverup months earlier than previously known, according to a new Republican congressional report published Monday.

Written by House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX), the report said based on material collected and analyzed, the preponderance of evidence suggests the SARS-CoV-2 virus was “accidentally released from a Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory sometime prior to September 12, 2019.” The report added:

The virus, or the viral sequence that was genetically manipulated, was likely collected in a cave in Yunnan province, PRC, between 2012 and 2015. Researchers at the WIV, officials within the CCP, and potentially American citizens 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 report adds to the first report released by McCaul in September 2020 looking into the origins of the coronavirus and the role of the CCP and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“All roads lead to the #WIV,” McCaul tweeted on Tuesday.

As part of that evidence, the report outlined:

— The sudden removal of the WIV’s virus and sample database in the middle of the night on September 12, 2019 and without explanation;

— Safety concerns expressed by top PRC scientists in 2019 and unusually scheduled maintenance at the WIV;

— Athletes at the Military World Games held in Wuhan in October 2019 who became sick with symptoms similar to COVID-19 both while in Wuhan and also shortly after returning to their home countries;

— Satellite imagery of Wuhan in September and October 2019 that showed a significant uptick in the number of people at local hospitals surrounding the WIV’s headquarters, coupled with an unusually high number of patients with symptoms similar to COVID-19;

— The installation of a People’s Liberation Army’s bioweapons expert as the head of the WIV’s Biosafety Level 4 lab (BSL-4), possibly as early as late 2019;

— and Actions by the Chinese Communist Party and scientists working at or affiliated with the WIV to hide or cover up the type of research being conducted at there.

The report also said researchers found other evidence such as an increase in Chinese search engine searches for “cough” and “diarrhea” in Wuhan around the time of increased numbers of people at local hospitals. Both are symptoms of COVID-19.

The report also lays out the involvement of American scientist Peter Daszak, the CEO of EcoHealth Alliance, who has publicly denied he funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan. The report said Daszak met Shi Zhengli, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the WIV, in 2004 and has used U.S. government grants to fund bat coronavirus and gain-of-function research in Wuhan. The report said:

Beginning in 2005, and continuing over the next 16 years, Shi and Daszak have collaborated on coronavirus research. Together, they ‘led dozens of expeditions to caves full of bats, to collect samples and analyze them.’ They have identified more than 500 novel coronaviruses, including roughly 50 related to SARS or MERS, and they have repeatedly engaged in gain-of-function research on coronaviruses designed to make them more infectious in humans.

The report also showed the role Daszak and colleague Ralph Baric played in trying to distance themselves and steer the U.S. government away from the idea that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a lab.

The report also recommends that Congress subpoena Daszak to appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a material witness to the ongoing investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

“Committee Minority Staff attempted, on multiple occasions, to contact Daszak with a list of questions relevant to this report. He never responded,” the report said.

Although Baric has provided answers to a list of questions from HFAC Republican staff, his testimony “would also be useful,” the report said.

The report concluded:

It is the opinion of Committee Minority Staff, based on the preponderance of available information; the documented efforts to obfuscate, hide, and destroy evidence; and the lack of physical evidence to the contrary; that SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally released from a Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory sometime prior to September 12, 2019. The virus, which may be natural in origin or the result of genetic manipulation, was likely collected in the identified cave in Yunnan province, PRC, sometime between 2012 and 2015. Its release was due to poor lab safety standards and practices, exacerbated by dangerous gain-of-function research being conducted at inadequate biosafety levels, including BSL-2. The virus was then spread throughout central Wuhan, likely via the Wuhan Metro, in the weeks prior to the Military World Games. Those games became an international vector, spreading the virus to multiple continents around the world.

Read the full report here.

 

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