Senate report details 'substantial evidence' COVID-19 came from Wuhan lab
"It appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident."
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Minority oversight staff on Thursday released an interim report asserting that the "Senate report details 'substantial evidence' supporting the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic originated as the result of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
"Experts have proposed two dominant theories on the origins of the virus: (1) the virus is the result of a natural zoonotic spillover or (2) the virus infected humans as a consequence of a research-related incident," the report's highlight section begins.
"While it remains possible that SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] emerged as a result of a natural zoonotic spillover, facts and evidence found in previous documented zoonotic spillover events have not, to date, been identified in relation to this pandemic," it continues.
"Substantial evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of a research-related incident associated with a laboratory in Wuhan, China," it goes on to assert. "A research-related incident is consistent with the early epidemiology showing rapid spread of the virus exclusively in Wuhan with the earliest calls for assistance being located in the same district as the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s (WIV) original campus in central Wuhan. The WIV is an epicenter of advanced coronavirus research, where researchers have collected samples of and experimented on high-risk coronaviruses."
The report begins by analyzing the problems with the theory that the virus developed naturally. To that end, it points out that the "[e]pidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 outbreak differs from previous natural zoonotic spillovers."
It then transitions to a section outlining the likeliness of the lab leak theory. Among the evidence it presents are a litany of prior documented safety concerns at the site before turning to specific events in 2019, when the outbreak first began. It further contrasted China's expedited vaccine development program with those of other countries.
The report then makes its primary case, pointing to evidence of at least six separate biosafety failures at the WIV during 2019 and 2020.
"A research-related incident is consistent with the early epidemiology showing rapid spread of the virus in Wuhan, with the earliest calls for assistance being located in the near the WIV's original campus in central Wuhan," the section begins. "It also explains the low genetic diversity of the earliest known SARS-CoV-2 human infections in Wuhan, because the likely index case, would be an infected researcher, is the likely primary source of the virus in Wuhan. A research-related incident also explains the failure to find an intermediate host as well as the failure to find any animal infections pre-dating human COVID-19 cases."
The WIV has denied it is the source of the leak.
"Based on the analysis of the publicly available information, it appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident," the report concludes. "New information, made publicly available and independently verifiable, could change this assessment. However, the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy."
The White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog and investigative group, that scrutinizes government funding of animal research labs, asserted that the report was further justification for improving oversight mechanisms on federal health bodies and research groups.
"Once again, an authoritative Congressional report has concluded that taxpayer-funded gain-of-function experiments on animals in Wuhan likely caused the Covid-19 pandemic," said WCW Senior Vice President Justin Goodman. "Yet, nearly 3 years into the pandemic, the white coats responsible for probably causing and covering up this global disaster—including Anthony Fauci, EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan lab—have not been held accountable and the NIH continues to brazenly and recklessly bankroll dangerous animal experiments to supercharge coronaviruses with little oversight."
The lab leak theory was widely panned as "misinformation" during the height of the pandemic, with its proponents often censored on social media or derided as racist for blaming China. Congress, nonetheless, voted to ban further federal funding to the WIV in July of this year.