WASHINGTON — House Republicans probed a panel of scientists over the origins of the Covid pandemic, pushing the theory that the virus most likely came from a lab leak in Wuhan, China, while acknowledging how the virus , there was no definitive evidence to support it. Occurred.
Former Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield, who was among three witnesses called by committee Republicans, reiterated his belief that the virus originated in a Chinese laboratory based on its structure and previous work. This is a claim that Redfield had previously made publicly.
Redfield told the committee, “Based on my initial analysis of the data, I came to believe and I still believe today that it indicates that Covid-19 is more the result of an accidental laboratory leak than the result of a natural spillover event.” Was.” , “This collusion is based primarily on the biology of the virus itself.”
There has been a renewed debate about the origin of the virus after recent reports surrounding the assessments of various federal agencies. FBI Director Chris Wray said in a Fox News interview last month that the FBI believes that COVID probably originated from a “likely lab incident” in Wuhan, but that the Chinese government has obstructed its ongoing investigation. Is done. The US Department of Energy has concluded with “low confidence” that the Covid pandemic “likely” originated from a lab leak in Wuhan, according to a classified report given to key lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees in January Is.
Biden asked intelligence officials to redouble efforts in 2021 to uncover the origins of the virus. In a report released later that year, at least one US intelligence agency concluded that the COVID-19 virus may have emerged from a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China, but the US intelligence community is divided on the origin of the virus and reports It said the agencies are unlikely to be able to provide a more definitive explanation without significant new information.
“I would love for this thing to happen from nature. I would love to, it would be better for all of us,” Rep. Brad Weinstrup, R-Ohio, who chairs the committee, said, “But I can’t help but look at it and say there’s another possibility here.
Democrats and Republicans on the committee agreed that it was important to understand how the virus originated and that the issue needed further investigation, though they differed on how to go about it.
“It looks like the brains on the other side of the aisle are locked in and built on the original and have chosen their villain,” Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calie, said. “If we really want to follow the evidence, the truth is that the evidence we have now is inconclusive.”
Redfield accused top public health officials, including former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, of suppressing debate about the origin of the virus in the early months of the pandemic and instead advancing this theory. Alleged that the virus had evolved in nature. The jump from animals to humans.
“When you have a group of people that decide there can only be one point of view that’s problematic. And I will keep saying that’s contrary to science, and unfortunately, that’s what they did,” Redfield said.
Republicans on the committee appeared to accept the criticism, with committee members accusing Fauci of pushing for the publication of a research paper promoting the theory that the virus evolved naturally and Redfield of the lab leak theory. Kept out of major discussions because of his support for.
Fauci has previously said he believes the evidence suggests the virus most likely originated in nature, but all theories need to be tested and he is open to the possibility of a lab leak.
Along with Redfield, the committee also heard testimony from Jamie Metzl, an infectious disease researcher and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; Paul Overter, Clinical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; and Nicholas Wade, former editor of the journals Nature and Science.
Democrats on the committee looked to shift the conversation to questions of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, highlighting comments made by former President Donald Trump praising China early in the pandemic.
The House is expected to vote this week on legislation to make public all information related to the origin of Covid.
Republicans, who now hold a majority in the House, are expected to continue holding hearings around the pandemic. Last month, a separate committee held a hearing on the Biden administration’s response to the COVID pandemic, with a focus on vaccine mandates and mask recommendations.