‘Substantial Evidence’ COVID-19 Result of Wuhan Laboratory ‘Incident’: Senate Report

‘Substantial Evidence’ COVID-19 Result of Wuhan Laboratory ‘Incident’: Senate Report
The P4 laboratory building at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is shown in Wuhan, China, on May 13, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Considerable evidence points to the COVID-19 pandemic being linked to the high-level laboratory in Wuhan, China, that’s located near where the first cases were reported, a U.S. Senate report released on Oct. 27 states.

“Substantial evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of a research-related incident associated with a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” the report states.

“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 origins of COVID-19 are still unknown. Some scientists lean toward a lab origin, which would mean the virus leaked or was released by Chinese researchers. Others favor a natural origin theory.

The report states that a natural origin remains possible but noted that evidence found in previous instances of a virus starting in nature hasn’t been identified for COVID-19, such as the original animal host.

“Such gaps include the failure to identify the original host reservoir, the failure to identify a candidate intermediate host species, and the lack of serological or epidemiological evidence showing transmission from animals to humans, among others outlined in this report,” the report states. “As a result of these evidentiary gaps, it is hard to treat the natural zoonotic spillover theory as the presumptive origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The 35-page document (pdf) was produced by minority staff on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under the direction of Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the panel’s ranking Republican member. It was described as an interim report.

Staffers spent 15 months poring over hundreds of scientific studies, interviewing dozens of subject-matter experts, and analyzing previous reports and studies on the possible origins, Burr said.

“I believe that this report provides a significant contribution to the existing body of evidence and helps establish parameters for how future analyses should be reviewed,” he said.

The Chinese Communist Party’s lack of transparency “prevents reaching a more definitive conclusion,” he said.

Burr and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the panel’s chair, in June 2021 announced a bipartisan effort that was to include “reviewing information from federal agencies and relevant experts regarding the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19, and regarding how to improve the nation’s ability to assess the safety and security of biosafety laboratories.”

Neither Murray nor her staff were said to be involved in the interim report.

Murray’s spokesperson didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment by press time.

The report came after a recent study concluded that the odds of a natural origin for COVID-19 were less than 1 in 100 million after analyzing qualitative aspects, such as virus features.
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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