A panel of experts on Tuesday told Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that they are convinced COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan, China.
“This is a worldwide pandemic in which millions of people have died. It may have been the result of a lab-leak — and we think highly likely it is,” Adm. Brett Giroir told the subcommittee, as The Daily Caller reported.
All four of the experts — which included Dr. David Asher, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Dr. Richard Muller, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California Berkeley and Dr. Steven Quay, founder of Atossa Therapeutics — answered “yes” when asked if the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 started in Wuhan lab.
“A natural zoonosis has two processes,” Quay said. “It jumps into humans but it can’t do very well… but then it’s building up its repertoire, it’s learning how to infect humans. And then finally, and this takes a year to 18 months. So here, it was human-to-human from the get-go.”
“That simply indicated gain-of-function,” Muller added. “The fact that it was human from the get-go implies gain-of-function. There’s no way that we know that could happen [naturally].”
Asher, though, said he has no knowledge about whether the virus was released on purpose.
“They were working on a program related to synthetic biology and gain-of-function using serial passage revolutionary technology approaches quite publicly,” said Asher, a former State Department official. “Of course they were working on dual-use research of concerns. It’s called DURC. And the DURC, in this case, if it gets out of a lab and it’s not contained promptly, could result in a weapons-like release.”
“Whether they deliberately did it, I have very little sense they did. But were they deliberately working on developing the capability to use advanced pathogen genetic capabilities for war in a way that no one has seen ever employed? Yeah they were. Of course they are,” he added.
Republican lawmakers have long insisted that the government should investigate the theory that the virus leaked from the laboratory in Wuhan. Earlier this month, GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee claimed that “significant circumstantial evidence” exists showing that the virus first emerged from a leak at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The lawmakers, headed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who is the top Republican on the committee, said in a report that China has not cooperated with efforts to find out where the virus originated.
“International efforts to discover the true source of the virus, however, have been stymied by a lack of cooperation from the People’s Republic of China,” they wrote in the report. “Nevertheless, significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
The report also said the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military had “involvement” in the lab and rejected the long-reported claim that the virus came from bats. “By contrast, little circumstantial evidence has emerged to support the PRC’s claim that COVID-19 was a natural occurrence, having jumped from some other species to human,” the lawmakers wrote.
The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week it is possible the virus had a “lab-based origin.” At a Senate hearing, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky how she thinks the pandemic began. “I don’t believe I’ve seen enough data, individual data for me to be able to comment on that,” Walensky said.
Kennedy then asked about the “possibilities” of where the virus originated: “Certainly the possibilities of, that most coronaviruses that we know of are of origin from, that have infected the population — SARS CoV-1, MERS — generally come from an animal origin.”
“Are there any other possibilities?” Kennedy asked.
“Certainly a lab-based origin is one possibility,” Walensky said.
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