Pompeo says as secretary 'enormous resistance' within State to learn about gain-of-function research

Much of the focus about that research has focused on the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Mike Pompeo said Tuesday there was "enormous resistance" within the State Department when he was in charge on efforts to learn more about whether a Chinese virology lab engaged in potentially risky gain-of-function research prior to the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic.  

"Inside the State Department there was lots of debate about the efforts we had underway, but I was just vicious about demanding that the team do everything they can to sort fact from fiction," the former secretary of state told Just the News's "Water Cooler" show.

"If it leads to a conclusion that's not the one that we think it is – great," said the country’s top diplomat in the Trump administration. "We just want to get to the conclusion. But there was enormous resistance."

Pompeo declined to speculate on the reason for the resistance, including whether it was part of a so-called "deep state" within the federal government made up of anti-Trump officials trying to undermine the former president’s agenda. 

"I can't tell you their motivations. You'd have to ask them," he told show host David Brody.

Much of the debate around gain-of-function research – experiments in which scientists increase the pathogenicity or transmissibility of a virus to study its pandemic potential – has focused on the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a major coronavirus study facility located in the same city in which the ruling Chinese Communist Party said the virus first infected humans at an outdoor food market. There has been increasing concern and speculation in recent months as to whether the virus, in fact, leaked from that lab.

Pompeo said he and others also faced resistance from outside the department when trying to learn more about the virus, requiring them to hire a contractor to gather critical data.

"Because we could see the World Health Organization wasn't going to do what they were supposed to do," he said.