GOP Report Claims COVID-19 Leaked from China Lab, Cites 'Unusual' Safety Overhaul Bids at Wuhan Lab
TEHRAN (FNA)- A “preponderance of evidence” supports the theory that the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic “leaked” from a Chinese lab, claimed a report by US Republicans released on Monday and cited by Fox News.
The Wuhan National Biosafety Lab had sought bids for extensive revamp of its air disinfection and central air conditioning systems, despite the fact that the research facility was less than two years old, stated the report from the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Republican staff, released by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
Furthermore, an overhaul to a tune of around $1.5 million had been requested in July 2019 for the facility’s hazardous waste treatment system.
"Such a significant renovation so soon after the facility began operation appears unusual," said the report, insisting it raised “questions about how well these systems were functioning in the months prior to the outbreak of COVID-19".
The reason for the safety protocol-linked procurement posting is not clear, not whether the work was carried out. Weighing in on the competing theory that the pandemic was caused by an animal virus likely transmitted to humans at a seafood market near the WIV, the report added, "We now believe it's time to completely dismiss the wet market as the source… We also believe the preponderance of the evidence proves the virus did leak from the WIV and that it did so sometime before September 12, 2019."
Amid the controversy over the origins of the pandemic, in March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued its first report in the wake of a fact-finding mission to China. The team came to the conclusion that the possibility of the virus having leaked from a state laboratory in Wuhan was very low. The experts stated that there was a ‘high possibility’ that the virus was transmitted to humans from bats through another animal.
Head of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus outlined a plan recently for a second investigation in China of the origins of coronavirus, including a proposal for "audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019".
Zeng Yixin, China's Vice Minister of the National Health Commission, rejected the proposal, noting it "disregards common sense and defies science".
Despite ridiculing his predecessor Donald Trump's claims that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a Chinese lab, in late May Democratic US President Joe Biden gave the US intelligence community 90 days to reexamine the origins of the coronavirus and determine whether the deadly disease leaked from a lab or spread from an infected animal to a human. The probe's findings are expected to be delivered to the president's desk by late August.
Several top officials tasked with overseeing the probe, including Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, purportedly now consider the lab leak theory just as much a possibility as the hypothesis that the new coronavirus was created in nature, according to CNN sources.
Furthermore, media investigations spanning the past year-and-a-half have also implicated the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the potential "leak", adding that Western scientists and academic institutions reportedly collaborated with their Chinese counterparts in potentially dangerous bat coronavirus experiments at Wuhan, providing millions of dollars in grant money to the lab for research banned in their respective countries due to safety reasons.
China has pushed back amid the Wuhan lab leak allegations, dismissing them as a conspiracy theory.
In June, the Chinese newspaper Global Times urged the international community to look into "suspicious" activities at American biological research institutions, particularly the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
In August 2019, the lab was temporarily shut down after a Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inspection amid fears that deadly virus research being engaged in at the facility could escape.
While vehemently denying claims of a China lab leak, Beijing has been urging Washington and its allies to stop politicising the issue, affirming its own commitment to finding the truth behind the origins of the virus that triggered the deadly pandemic.