WASHINGTON—The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing on “Investigating the Origins of COVID-19” to gather facts about the origination of the virus that has claimed nearly seven million lives globally. At the hearing, several of the witnesses pointed to how the science, facts, and evidence point to a lab leak in Wuhan.
Key Hearing Takeaways
Knowing the origin of COVID-19 is fundamental to helping predict and prevent future pandemics.
Select Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup opened the hearing by emphasizing how knowing the origin of the virus is essential to helping predict and prevent future pandemics, protecting health and national security, and preparing the United States for the future. He pledged that the Select Subcommittee will thoroughly, responsibly, and honestly investigate the origin of COVID-19.
Dr. Jamie Metzl, Ph.D., senior fellow at the Atlantic Council said in an opening statement, “If we do not get to the bottom of what went wrong with the COVID-19 pandemic, if we fail in our efforts to fearlessly understand all shortcomings and shore up the vulnerabilities this crisis has so clearly exposed, the victims of the next pandemic, our children and grandchildren, will ask us why we failed to protect when we knew what was at stake and had the chance.”
Mounting evidence continues to show that COVID-19 may have originated from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Dr. Robert Redfield, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testified how science indicates COVID-19 infections were likely the result of an accidental lab leak in Wuhan. His conclusion is based on the biology of the virus itself and unusual actions in and around Wuhan in 2019, including gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Nicholas Wade—the former science and health editor at the New York Times, and former editor of Science and Nature—testified how Drs. Fauci and Collins used unverified data to dismiss the lab leak theory in favor of natural transmission.
Jamie Metzl testified how China’s government destroyed samples, hid records, imprisoned Chinese journalists, prevented Chinese scientists from saying or writing anything on pandemic origins without prior government approval, actively spread misinformation, and prevented an evidence-based investigation.
The mainstream media downplayed—and even denied—the scientific theory that COVID-19 emerged from the WIV.
Nicholas Wade testified about the campaign to discredit the lab leak theory. He pointed out that scientists kept in line with the natural origin camp led by Drs. Fauci and Collins because of their dependence on government grants and that the media failed to challenge the forced narrative.
All witnesses agreed that the possibility of COVID-19 originating from a lab is not a conspiracy theory.
Subcommittee Chairman Dr. Wenstrup (R-Ohio.) asked witnesses whether it is critical to investigate the origin of COVID-19. All witnesses answered yes. Chairman Wenstrup also raised concern about gain-of-function research, which Dr. Redfield defined during the hearing as altering a pathogen to increase either transmissibility or pathogenicity.
Subcommittee Chairman Wenstrup: “In your expert opinion was the Wuhan Institute conducting gain-of-function research on a batch of coronaviruses?”
Dr. Redfield: “Absolutely.”
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) noted that after raising concerns to experts and the World Health Organization that COVID-19 may have originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, and urging Dr. Fauci to investigate the origins of the pandemic, Dr. Redfield was excluded from calls related to the origins of the pandemic.
Rep. Malliotakis: “Why do you think you were excluded from those calls?”
Dr. Redfield: “It was told to me that they wanted a single narrative and that I obviously had a different point of view.”
Dr. Redfield added: “If you really want to be truthful, it’s antithetical to science. Science has debate, and they squashed any debate.”
Scientists, including Dr. Fauci, then drafted a paper arguing COVID-19’s proximal origins to animals at a wet market.
Rep. Malliotakis: “Do you think that this paper does hide the truth?”
Dr. Redfield: “I think it’s an inaccurate paper that basically was part of a narrative that they were creating.”
Rep. Malliotakis also warned that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) may have been funding gain-of-function research on coronaviruses at the WIV.
Rep. Malliotakis: “Is it likely that American tax dollars funded the gain-of-function research that created this virus?”
Dr. Redfield: I think it did, not only from NIH, but from the State Department, USAID and DOD.”
Rep. Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), who has expertise publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, asked why the scientific community dangerously suppressed evidence that COVID-19 may have originated from a lab.
“There is, as you said Dr. Metzl, extraordinary circumstantial evidence that this came from a lab.
“I don’t know why the authors didn’t want to state this, they did not want to have the scientific conversation and dialogue, why they wanted to obfuscate and suppress the truth, or even have a debate about the origins of COVID-19.
“Was it for personal financial gain? Was it to hide U.S. financial interest into the Wuhan Institute of Virology indirectly? Was it to suppress the revelation that there was perhaps gain-of-function research that had been prohibited in the United States? Or were they concerned that a conspiracy would develop that it was bioterrorism?
“I would state that their suppression and obfuscation has led to the exact mistrust and conspiracy theories that they may have tried to avoid.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Colo.) and Dr. Redfield discussed unusual actions at the WIV in September 2019.
Rep. Lesko: “Do you believe we can have certainty that the virus did not come from the Wuhan lab and that U.S. funding was not used for coronavirus research?”
Dr. Redfield: “Absolutely we cannot do that. It’s now declassified now, but in September 2019, three things happened in that lab. One, they deleted the sequences. That is highly irregular—researchers don’t usually like to do that. Second, they commanded the command and control of the lab from civilian control to military control. Highly unusual. And the third thing they did, which I think is really telling, is they let a contractor re-do the ventilation system in that laboratory. There is strong evidence there was a significant event in that laboratory in September 2019.”
Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) warned that the media downplayed, discredited, and silenced voices of experts sounding the alarm that COVID-19 may have originated from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Chairman Comer: “Would you agree that the scientific establishment used the media to downplay the lab leak theory?”
Mr. Wade: “I think the media was used in this particular campaign to establish the natural origin theory.
“The scientific community is very afraid to speak up on political issues. I think the reason is that government grants are handed out through the system of peer-reviewed committees. You don’t want any single scientist on your peer-review committee to vote against, because you won’t get your grant – it’s so competitive. Therefore, scientists are very reluctant to say anything that’s politically divisive or turn other scientists off against them. This means that they cannot be relied upon in the way that we would like them to be independent and forthright and call it as they see it.”
Comer: “Was there science available to make such an unequivocal statement against the possibility of a lab leak that early on in February of 2020?”
Witnesses Dr. Metzl, Mr. Wade, and Dr. Redfield all answered, “No.”
Comer: “Is the possibility COVID-19 leaked from a lab a conspiracy theory?”
Witnesses answered, “No.”