Two Republican congress members introduced legislation to pressure China to reveal everything the country knows about the origins of COVID-19, after the US said it couldn’t determine whether it had leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Elise Stefanik, of New York, and Rob Wittman, of Virginia, put forth The World Deserves to Know Act, which would sanction Chinese officials suspected of suppressing the truth. The Act was introduced after U.S. investigators claimed China failed to cooperate with parts of the investigation and blocked critical information.
‘It leaves all of us asking: What is China hiding,’ Stefanik and Wittman wrote in an opinion piece for Fox.
‘We know the Wuhan Institute of Virology was performing potentially dangerous research on coronaviruses. As early as 2018, concerned diplomats warned the Department of State of significant safety issues at the Wuhan lab.’
U.S. Representatives Elise Stefanik, left, and Rob Wittman are pushing for the U.S. to get definitive answers regarding the origin of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China
The Wuhan Institute of Virology was subject to multiple investigations by the U.S. government and the World Health Organization this year
Medical staff are seen with a coronavirus outbreak in the pandemic’s origin city of Wuhan back on January 25, 2020
What is Gain of Function research?
Gain of Function Research (GOF) is a controversial practice that involves altering a virus or pathogen in order to study the development of new diseases and their transmission.
Scientists conducting GOF research modify naturally occurring viruses to make them more infectious so that they can replicate in human cells in a lab.
This allows the virus’s potential effects on humans to be studied and better understood. GOF has been considered controversial due to its inherent biosafety risks.
In 2014, the Obama administration imposed a moratorium on GOF which included halting funding for projects, however, this decision was overturned three years later by the National Institute of Health (NIH).
On May 25, 2021, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci defended funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology through a $600,000 grant given to the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, to study whether bat coronaviruses could be transmitted to humans.
He said the research was essential, pointing out that the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s was eventually traced back to bats.
However, Fauci claimed that under the terms of the funding, scientists were not to use the money on Gain of Function research.
The bill would also prohibit American taxpayer dollars from being sent to China for potentially dangerous research.
In 2014, The U.S. had granted $600,000 to the Wuhan lab through the National Health Institute to study whether bat coronaviruses could be transmitted to humans.
But White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed that the funds were not used for gain-of-function research. The National Institutes of Health – where Fauci serves as director, and which has ties to the WIV – has also denied it funded the research.
Gain-of-function research, a controversial practice that involves altering a virus or pathogen in order to potentially make it more infectious, to study the development of new diseases and their transmission, is feared to have been a potential cause of the COVID outbreak.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology was a biosafety level 4 lab, meaning it was approved to conduct gain-of-function research.
During a hearing with congress in May, Fauci said that the Chinese scientist at the lab were ‘trustworthy,’ but admitted they could have been lying about what the funds from the U.S. were being used for, NBC reported.
The grants to the Wuhan lab have ceased.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who was widely mocked and dismissed for adopting the theory early on that COVID could have originated in the Wuhan lab and leaked from it, accused Fauci of lying and claimed he knew that the funds were being used for gain-of-function research.
The two had a heated back-and-forth debate at a hearing in July.
‘Dr. Fauci, knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claimed the NIH [National Institutes of Health] never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?’ Paul asked of the nation’s top immunologist and Joe Biden’s top COVID advisor.
‘Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,’ Fauci shot back in the exchange on Capitol Hill during a Senate Health Committee hearing.
When Paul asked Fauci if taking an animal virus and increasing its transmissibility to humans is not the definition of ‘gain of function’, Fauci said: ‘That is correct.’
‘And Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially – You do not know what you are talking about,’ Fauci lambasted as the two began talking over each other in front of the hearing room.
‘You won’t admit the truth,’ Paul rebutted.
‘You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual (sic). I totally resent that,’ Fauci said.
‘And it could have been,’ Paul interjected.
‘If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you,’ Fauci said as he grabbed hold of the microphone and pointed at the Kentucky senator.
Dr. Fauci insisted to Congress in May that the US has never funded any kind of gain-of-function research in Wuhan to do with COVID-19. Newly unearthed files obtained by The Intercept have led some to question that claim
In 2014, the National Health Institute approved a five-year, yearly grant of $666,000 a year for five years ($3.3million) for EcoHealth Alliance, a US research organization, into bat coronavirus. EcoHealth Alliance, in its proposal to the NIH, acknowledged the risks involved were ‘the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs’ among staff, who could then carry it out of the lab. The NIH gave them the anyway – something Fauci was previously forced to admit when testifying before Congress in May this year. EcoHealth Alliance then gave $599,000 of the money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Stefanik and Wittman also expressed worries over the claims that scientist at the lab ended up being infected with a ‘mysterious illness’ after working on SARS-like coronaviruses from bats just before the pandemic broke out in the Wuhan province of China.
‘This seems too unlikely to be a coincidence,’ the congress members wrote.
The late Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at a Wuhan hospital, warned the world about COVID-19 in the early days of its spread, but was reprimanded by police for ‘spreading rumors.’
He died in February 2020 from the very disease he was trying to warn everyone about.
China’s communist government has claimed the virus likely originated from a Wuhan ‘wet market’ which slaughters live animals for food. But skeptics say the proximity of one of the few labs in the world that conducts research on coronaviruses is too much of a coincidence to ignore.
Following Wenliang’s whistleblowing, Wei Jingsheng, a Chinese defector, said he warned the U.S. about what was unfolding in Wuhan but was subsequently ignored.
The long-time democracy campaigner, who has served time in prison for ‘counter-revolutionary activities’, said he approached the Trump administration in November 2019, as whispers of a ‘new SARS virus’ began circulating on WeChat and other Chinese social media platforms.
‘I felt they were not as concerned as I was, so I tried my best to provide more detail and information,’ he tells Sky News in the documentary, What Really Happened in Wuhan.
‘They may not believe that a government of a country would do something like that (cover up a virus), so I kept repeating myself in an effort … to persuade them.’
Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang (pictured, left and right) blew the whistle on the mysterious new coronavirus in December 2019 and died in February 2020 after contracting the virus from a patient
Wei Jingsheng (pictured) claims he took his concerns about the unfolding situation to senior figures within the Trump administration but was subsequently ignored
A aerial view of the bio lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology
Xi Jinping’s authoritarian regime tried desperately to shut down whistle-blowers and silence any discussion of the virus in the early stages of the Wuhan outbreak – even when an untold number of corpses started flooding the city’s hospitals.
Any references made in social media about a new SARS virus or ‘outbreak’ were censored and brave medical staff who tried to speak out and warn the world were detained and forced to sign false confessions of panic-stirring.
Mr Jingsheng, who was exiled to the US years earlier, said he was aware of what was happening through Beijing Communist Party insiders who shared their fears about the situation and described the central government cover-up.
But despite the impending health crisis set to devastate the US and the rest of the globe, his message was not being taken seriously, he claims.
The Chinese dissident would not disclose which political leaders he spoke to but insisted they were senior government figures and had the ear of then-President Donald Trump (pictured in April)
The Chinese dissident would not disclose which political leaders he spoke to but insisted they were senior government figures and had the ear of then-President Donald Trump.
As coronavirus cases continued to ravage Chinese, the authoritarian state kept the outbreak hidden from the WHO until December 31, when it was no longer possible to contain knowledge of its existence.
But even then, Beijing denied the virus could be transmitted from person to person until eventually coming clean a month at the end of January.
There have so far been 226 million cases resulting in over 4.6 million deaths.
More than 628,000 of those fatalities occurred in the US.