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Press Release Published: Jun 29, 2021

Origins Forum Wrap Up: The Science Points to a Lab Leak

WASHINGTON—Today, Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), and Republican lawmakers held a forum entitled “Led By Science: The COVID-19 Origin Story.” At the forum, the Republican lawmakers heard from Members of Congress who have been investigating the virus’ origins as well as expert witnesses about the mounting evidence showing the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Panelists agreed the science points to a lab leak.

Key Takeaways

There is mounting scientific evidence that COVID-19 originated from the WIV in Wuhan, China and gain of function research was used to make the virus more infectious.  

  • Dr. Steven Quay, Founder of Atossa Therapeutics, testified there are six undisputed facts that support the hypothesis of gain of function acceleration and a lab leak. He also debunked the theory the virus originated from a wet market.
  • Dr. Richard Muller, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of California Berkeley, testified every scientific test that distinguishes between the animal to human and lab leak origins theories produces results that highly favor the lab origin. Muller emphasized that he has found no credible evidence that favors zoonotic origin.
  • Dr. Brett Giroir, former Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, testified the most likely origin of COVID-19 was an accidental infection of laboratory personnel from the WIV, with secondary transmission to the local population, and subsequent spread to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
  • Devin Nunes, the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, recently released a report and testified there is no substantive evidence supporting the theory that the virus was transferred from animal to human and there were multiple warnings about safety at the Wuhan lab, beginning as far back as 2017.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took malicious actions to conceal the origins of COVID-19 and the World Health Organization (WHO) is complicit in its cover-up.

  • Michael McCaul, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, outlined how Communist China detained doctors in order to silence them, disappeared journalists, destroyed lab samples, hid the fact there was clear evidence of human-to-human transmission, and refused to allow a real investigation into the virus’ origins.
  • Dr. David Asher, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, testified that it’s past time to impose costs on Beijing for its systematic intransigence, indifference, inaction, cover-up, and blatant disregard for international treaty obligations.
  • Ranking Member Nunes underscored that China has prevented a full and complete investigation into the origins of COVID-19. He outlined how China engages in gain of function research at the WIV and that the People’s Liberation Army reportedly conducts secret scientific research at the WIV.
  • Dr. Giroir stated the WHO cannot be relied upon to do an authoritative investigation, because it is a multilateral organization with no authority to do anything in China that is not directly approved by the Chinese Communist Party.

Congress must provide leadership in the COVID origins investigation, but Democrats have refused to participate in Republican efforts to hold the CCP accountable.

  • Dr. Giroir and Dr. Asher called on Congress to provide leadership for a full, complete, and transparent investigation.
  • Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) outlined several actions to take now to aid the origins investigation, including the declassification of intelligence, issue a subpoena to EcoHealth Alliance for all information related to their work with the WIV, run an audit of any taxpayer dollars that may have gone to the WIV, and continue the investigation into potential biological weapons convention violations.
  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called for more transparency from the Biden Administration, especially whether the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded gain of function research at the WIV. 
  • Republicans have repeatedly called on Democrats to investigate the origins of COVID-19, but they have refused.

Member Highlights

Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.) questioned witnesses about the likelihood of a lab leak and gain of function research. Witnesses called for more transparency and oversight over gain of function research.

Dr. Brett Giroir: “Lab leaks are not uncommon… lab leaks occur even under the best of circumstances because these viruses are adapted to be highly infectious so only a few viral particles could cause an infection. And with this virus with so much asymptomatic spread, a person could have spread it to dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of people before any symptom arose. We do have troubling reports from the State Department and other agencies of potential work being done at a much lower level of biosafety than should have been done at this level … the fact that there was a lab leak where there are issues of biosafety does not surprise me or any scientist.”

Dr. David Asher: “You can do things with biology, create essentially a weapon as a gain of function experiment. If it gets out a lab, and you don’t stop it, like what happened in China, it becomes a weapon.”

Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) raised concerns about the NIH deleting a gene sequence at the behest of Communist China.

Comer: “Isn’t it true the best chance to understand the virus is to examine the gene sequence as close as possible to patient zero?”

Dr. Steven Quay: “The elimination of that particular database was irresponsible, and they gave no basis for doing so.”

Ranking Member Comer also questioned the witnesses about indications gain of function was used to make the virus more contagious.

Comer: “What does the fact that the virus was optimized for human-to-human transmission tell us about the virus?”

Dr. Richard Muller: “The fact it was human-to-human transmission from the get-go indicates gain of function.”

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) went down the line asking Dr. Brett Giroir, Dr. Steven Quay, Dr. Richard Muller, and Dr. David Asher, “For the record, each of you believe that the virus started in the lab starting in Wuhan China.” All witnesses confirmed yes.

Congressman Jordan then asked if lives could have been saved if we knew the virus originated from the lab and may have been engineered.

Jordan: “If we had known it was from the lab and, as Dr. Muller points out, engineered, I think you said earlier Dr. Giroir, that that would have helped us save lives. Is that true?”

Dr. Brett Giroir: “I do believe that. Two answers, whether it was engineered or not, if we had known early and there wasn’t cover-up, we could have saved lives.

Dr. Steven Quay: “Yes, again, as I said earlier, if I had the virus [sample] for 72 hours I could predict the transmission and the asymptomatic from the virus itself.”

Dr. David Asher: “Did we actually know and not process data. . . “

Congressman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) asked witnesses about the CCP’s submission to the Biological Weapons Convention in 2011, raising concerns Communist China could use genetic markers to create biological weapons.

Dr. Brett Giroir: “I do want to raise another dirty little secret that really needs to be looked at by Congress: Those export controls should also include Americans’ DNA sequences. This is a really vital piece. Even the NIH often exports gene sequencing for many of our people to China. China absolutely keeps databases on: What are our genes? What are our susceptibilities? Is there a possibility of ethnic weapons? However, does not allow any sequences of Chinese out of their country. There’s a reason for that . . . It’s not just technology but it’s information and genetic information is really critical.”

Dr. David Asher: “. . . It’s so terrifying—I can’t even process it. In the Chinese declaration of 2011, they talked about, to the Biological Weapons Convention, they talked about, ‘Systems biology further revealing population specific genetic markers that can yield an improvement levels of human health, but also can create the potential for biological weapons based on genetic differences between races. Once hostile elements grasp a difference between different ethnic groups harbor intrinsically different genetic susceptibilities to particular pathogens, they can put that knowledge into practice and create genetic weapons targeted at a racial group with a particular susceptibility.’. . . To hear the Chinese Communist [Party] talk about ethnic targeting to the Biological Weapons Convention is pretty scary.”

Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) asked witnesses about actions the United States must take to hold the WHO accountable for aiding Communist China’s cover-up.

Malliotakis: “What should we be doing as a nation with regards to holding WHO accountable being that we are the largest funder of WHO and we deserve to be treated with respect not played for fools?”

Dr. Brett Giroir:You made very important comments . . . Our Ambassador Bremberg had a personal conversation and meeting with Tedros, as well as Mike Ryan . . . They told Ambassador Bremberg that we should submit names for the WHO Investigation Committee. That got relayed back to me through our office of global affairs.

“We picked three scientists. They were not political. They were career. One from the FDA, one from the CDC, one from the NIH. Impeccable credentials. We didn’t do a political biopsy on them. We had no ideas where they were from. Recommended them to the WHO through all the official channels. And crickets. Not one word back about the recommendations, and they picked Dr. Daszak. I wanted to get that particularly on the record because we went out of our way to pick people who could not be argued to be political or have a bone to pick in any way. Just to try to get the truth.

“Point number two. The President, whether we would have withdrawn from the WHO or not eventually, I don’t know. But, you don’t give up all your chips while you’re trying to get the WHO to change.

“I would refer you, and happy to put it in the record, [to] the Road Map for Change that came delivered by me to the WHO Executive Board, delivered by Ambassador Bremberg to [WHO Director-General Dr.] Tedros [Adhanom] that was brought together by HHS, the NSC, [and] Department of State.

“It will never be a perfect organization because it is beholden to its members. It has to have a member agreement to go do things. But there are things to strengthen it. It’s outlined by the Trump Administration. . .  This is a good place to start.”

Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) asked about the Biden Administration’s decision to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

Miller-Meeks: “Are you concerned about the President being willing to give up the intellectual property protections for the vaccines?”

Dr. Steven Quay: “Ya, I think so. I think because we are willing to throw around so much money here there’s probably another way to do it without breaking something that was in the Constitution . . . I actually teach a course where patents are key to Americans’ success. . . [patents are] an incredible engine to commerce.”

Dr. Brett Giroir: “Number one, I think patents are critical for innovation and number two, it’s completely naïve of this Administration to say we’re just going to give away a patent for a sophisticated manufacturing of vaccines that takes years and billions of dollars of expertise. We’re going to give it away so someone else can manufacture it. It’s just naïve. It does not make biological sense. It’s a fantasy world.”

To watch a recording of the forum, click HERE.