House Republicans kicked off their investigation on Monday into the origins of COVID-19 by sending a series of letters to current and former Biden administration officials seeking documents and advice. declare.
The chairman of the Republican House Oversight Committee and the subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic has requested information from several people, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, around the hypothesis that the coronavirus is harmless. a leak from a Chinese lab.
“This investigation must start with where and how this virus emerged so that we can try to predict, prepare for, or prevent it from recurring,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R -Ohio, the chair of the virus subcommittee, said in a statement.
Representative James Comer, R-Tenn., chairman of the oversight committee, added that Republicans will “follow the truth” and “make US government officials engage in any form of cover-up,” who is responsible.”
The letters to Fauci, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Health Secretary Xavier Beccera and others are the latest attempt by the new Republican majority to deliver on promises made during the campaign. midterm elections in 2022.
Wenstrup, who is also a longtime member of the House Intelligence Committee, has accused US intelligence of concealing important facts about their investigation into the coronavirus. Republicans on the committee last year issued a staff report arguing that there were “indications” that the virus may have been developed as a biological weapon inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
That would contradict a Evaluation of the US intelligence community released in unclassified form in August 2021 says analysts do not believe the virus is a biological weapon, although it may have been leaked in a lab accident .
Second sent messages do not require the recipient’s cooperation. But when he released the Republican staff report in December, Wenstrup said lawmakers would issue subpoenas if potential witnesses failed to cooperate.
Initially dismissed by most public health experts and government officials, the theory that COVID-19 originated in an accidental laboratory leak began to come under scrutiny after President Donald Trump Joe Biden ordered an investigation into the matter in May 2021.
The 90-day review is intended to prompt US intelligence agencies to gather more information and review what they already have. Former State Department officials under President Donald Trump have publicly pushed for further investigation into the origins of the virus, as have scientists and the World Health Organization.
Many scientists, including Fauci, who until December served as Biden’s chief medical adviser, say they still believe it’s most likely the virus. appear in nature and jumping from animals to humans, a well-documented phenomenon known as a spillover event. Virologists have not publicly identified any significant new scientific evidence that would make the lab leak hypothesis more likely.
But Republicans accused Fauci of lying to Congress when he denied in May that the National Institutes of Health had funded research that “gained function” — the practice of boosting the virus in the room. experiments to study its potential real-world effects — at a virology department. laboratory in Wuhan, China. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, even urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Fauci’s claims.
Fauci, who served as the country’s top infectious disease expert under both Republican and Democratic presidents, called the GOP’s criticism pointless.
Cruz and Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., have previously said that an October 2021 letter from the NIH to Congress contradicts Fauci. But there is no clear evidence or scientific consensus that NIH-funded “gain to function” research, and there is no link between US-funded research and the emergence of COVID- 19. The NIH has repeatedly asserted that its funding is not intended for such research related to promoting the infectivity and lethality of pathogens.
However, Fauci indicated in November that he would “cooperate fully and testify” if Republicans follow through with a plan to investigate the origins of COVID.
“I had no trouble testifying – we were able to defend and explain everything we said,” he told reporters at a White House press conference last year.
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