Two House GOP leaders are calling on their Democrat colleagues to launch a “full and complete” investigation into the origins of the CCP virus.
The call came from House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is the ranking member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee.
“We shared evidence that the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] obscured the virus’[s] origins, manipulated the World Health Organization (WHO) to cover up the severity of the initial outbreak, and leveraged the crisis to steal American medical research, among other things,” Scalise and Comer wrote in their letter dated May 24.
The letter was addressed to James Clyburn (D-S.C.), chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee.
Beijing’s initial responses to COVID-19—a disease caused by the CCP virus that is commonly known as the novel coronavirus—were a litany of missteps. The most noticeable ones were its decision to silence whistleblower doctors who tried to warn the public of an “unknown pneumonia” outbreak in Wuhan city in December 2019, and failing to acknowledge that the virus was contagious until Jan. 20 last year.
Now, more than a year after the onset of the outbreak, Beijing has still refused to be transparent—it refused to provide raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the WHO-led investigation team that conducted groundwork in Wuhan earlier this year. In March, Peter Ben Embarek, who led the team, said during a press conference that the team didn’t do “a full investigation or audit” of any lab in Wuhan.
The WHO team’s findings concluded that the possibility of the virus originating from a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.” That conclusion has since been challenged by many critics, and the issue was further brought into scrutiny when the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sought hospital care with COVID-19 symptoms in November 2019. The WSJ report was based on an undisclosed U.S. intelligence report.
The WSJ report was consistent with details announced by a State Department fact sheet released in January. The department stated that it had reason to believe that “several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”
The fact sheet also stated that the WIV researchers had been conducting experiments on bat coronavirus starting at least as far back as 2016.
“In light of new evidence [from the WSJ], and your ongoing refusal to acknowledge legitimate questions related to the CCP, we are writing to renew our long-standing request for a full investigation of China’s liability,” Scalise and Comer wrote.
The two lawmakers pointed to previous failed efforts by the Republicans to push House Democrats into taking actions to hold China accountable for the spread of the virus. For example, Scalise and four other Republican House lawmakers sent a letter (pdf) to Clyburn in May 2020, calling for a similar investigation on China over COVID-19.
“Repeatedly, we called for a full investigation to address those questions. Repeatedly, you ignored our requests,” they stated.
They continued: “The House Democrat majority’s refusal to follow the science, listen to the experts, and investigate the origins of COVID-19 raises serious questions about the credibility of the Select Subcommittee because we are uniquely positioned to find the truth, and seeking those answers is squarely within our mandated jurisdiction.”
In their letter, Scalise and Comer also quoted several senior Biden Administration officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, and how they also called for an “impartial investigation.”
Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told a Senate hearing on May 11 that he was “in favor of a full investigation” to determine whether the virus came from lab accidents. On the same day, he told PolitiFact that he is now “not convinced” that the virus developed naturally.
The Chinese regime has denied that the virus’s origin was linked to the WIV and has pushed a natural zoonotic hypothesis—that the virus was transmitted to humans from an animal host. Beijing has also blamed other countries, including India, Italy, and the United States, for the pandemic—as well as contaminated foreign food imports, such as European salmon.
“In short, there is evidence the CCP started the pandemic, covered it up, and is responsible for the deaths of almost 600,000 Americans and millions more worldwide,” Scalise and Comer concluded.
As of May 24, there were over 33.1 million infection cases in the United States, with over 590,530 deaths related to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll now stands at over 3.47 million.
On Monday, the White House renewed its call for a “transparent” international investigation into the origins of the virus, during a press briefing by press secretary Jen Psaki. She added that there should be an “expert-driven evaluation of the pandemic’s origins that is free from interference or politicization.”
The call for an impartial international investigation also came from the Senate on Monday.
“The United States & the world must demand a full, impartial investigation into COVID-19 origins, with a special focus on the Wuhan labs,” wrote Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ariz.) on Twitter, calling on the WIV and the Wuhan’s Center for Disease Control “to open their doors & databases for a full audit of their research.”
Cotton added: “The CCP needs to stop obstructing investigators, destroying evidence, and telling ridiculous lies.”