Intel committee member on COVID origins: 'No evidence that it came from nature'

Rep. Brad Wenstrup released an unclassified report that concluded there are indications COVID-19 may have been "tied to China's biological weapons research program and spilled over to the human population."

Updated: December 19, 2022 - 10:15am

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A new congressional report on the origins of COVID-19 has found "no evidence" that the virus came from nature, according to Ohio GOP Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

The unclassified report by the House Intelligence Committee minority staff found indications that COVID may have been "tied to China's biological weapons research program and spilled over to the human population during a lab-related incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

On a press call with reporters Thursday, Westrup was asked what consequences China's government should face if the biological weapons connection is established.

"I think we're a long way from getting to that point, because we don't, as they say in this report, we don't have a smoking gun," he said. "We don't have something definitive. So it depends on what actually happened. You know, as we dig deeper, maybe we'll come to a conclusion that it didn't come from the lab. But right now, there's no evidence that it came from nature."

While reserving final judgment on the origins of the virus, Wenstrup is calling for an end to U.S. cooperation with China in any gain-of-function research. 

"We have to be definitive and know what we're talking about before there's consequences," he said. "But I would certainly hope that we no longer engage with them in research like this. And if we are, I'd want to know why we are." 

Westrup said the House Intelligence Committee under GOP leadership will dig deeper into the findings of the new report and lead a full bipartisan investigation into the origins of COVID in the next Congress. He was asked how the GOP probe will differ from what occurred under the Democrats.

"We're going to actually have an investigation where we are actually talking to key players that have been involved with this at every level," he said. "There's a lot of people we want to talk to that haven't had the chance to speak up, or been asked any questions. So that's the difference, but we have to do it in a bipartisan fashion." 

Westrup said the committee has seen enough evidence that raises eyebrows.

"We're not putting the blame game out there," he said. "And there may come a point where we have to, but right now, we don't have evidence in that direction. But we have a lot of evidence that raises eyebrows and encourages us to drive on further."