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GOP lawmakers seek probe of U.S. financing of Wuhan lab at center of COVID-19 controversy

‘There is mounting evidence the COVID-19 pandemic started in the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Communist Party covered it up," GOP lawmakers wrote.

Updated: May 28, 2021 - 11:24pm

House Republicans sent a letter Friday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., demanding she permit an investigation into whether a Chinese lab released COVID-19 as they began their own inquiry into the National Institutes of Health’s funding for the scandal-ridden Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“There is mounting evidence the COVID-19 pandemic started in the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Communist Party covered it up," GOP lawmakers wrote, demanding accountability “if U.S. taxpayer money was used to develop COVID-19, conduct gain of function research, or assist in any sort of cover-up.

“It is incumbent upon grant recipients to ensure their work is performed within the scope of the grant, advances our national interest, and protects our national security. It is vital to understand if U.S. taxpayer funds were at all affiliated with a pandemic that has taken the lives of nearly 600,000 Americans so we can prevent similar future catastrophes,” they added.

House Committee on Oversight and Reform ranking member James Comer, R-Ky., and House Committee on the Judiciary ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Francis Collins, the director of the NIH, and Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The Republicans point to a grant from NIH given to EcoHealth, which they say has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology "to study bat coronaviruses."

“EcoHealth has awarded almost $600,000 to the WIV and another $200,000 to the Wuhan University School of Public Health," the lawmakers wrote. "On July 8, 2020, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Dr. Michael Lauer sent a letter to EcoHealth expressing concern over its relationship with the WIV and suspended EcoHealth’s grant pending answers to several routine questions. The questions posed by Dr. Lauer raise serious concerns and suggest COVID-19 was spreading worldwide by October 2019.”

The letter from 209 House Republicans led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik demanded Pelosi allow a congressional probe into the virus's origins. 

"We request that you instruct the appropriate Democrat committee chairs to immediately join Republican calls to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for its role in causing the global COVID-19 pandemic," the letter stated.