COVID-19 leaked from the controversial Wuhan lab sometime before Sept. 12, 2019 — with China’s Communist Party keeping the deadly virus under wraps in the “greatest coverup of all time,” according to a damning Republican investigation into the origins released Monday.
The report showed “a preponderance of the evidence proves that all roads lead” to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the bat-research lab already eyed as a source for the pandemic, according to Rep. Michael McCaul.
“It is our belief the virus leaked sometime in late August or early September 2019,” said McCaul, the lead Republican in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“When they realized what happened, Chinese Communist Party officials and scientists at the WIV began frantically covering up the leak, including taking their virus database offline in the middle of the night and requesting more than $1 million for additional security,” McCaul said.
The report cited “ample evidence” that the lab’s scientists — aided by US experts and Chinese and US government funds — were working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans and such manipulation could be hidden.
“Researchers at the WIV were also able to successfully modify coronaviruses without leaving a trace as early as 2016,” McCaul insisted, citing previous research papers.
“Therefore it is no longer appropriate for anyone to dismiss the notion this virus could have been genetically modified before it leaked from the WIV,” he said.
Unusual activity was detected as July 2019, the report said, saying that a request was made for a $1.5 million overhaul of a hazardous waste treatment system for the facility, which was less than two years old.
Some of those requests included maintenance on “environmental air disinfection system” and “hazardous waste treatment system” – which would indicate concerns about how these systems meant to prevent lab leaks were functioning, the report states.
There were also “significant concerns about the lax safety protocols” and proof that scientists were conducting gain-of-function research in labs with the same safety protocols as a dentist’s office, the report claims.
The report concluded that the virus escaped “sometime prior to September 12, 2019” — the day that urgent inspections were called for the lab and its viral sequence database disappeared from the internet, said Fox News.
Later that evening, the institute published an announcement for bids for “security services” at the lab “to include gatekeepers, guards, video surveillance, security patrols, and people to handle the ‘registration and reception of foreign personnel,’” according to the report.
Major General Chen Wei, an expert in biology and chemical weapon defenses, took control of the Wuhan Institute’s biosafety level-4 lab in late 2019, according to the report.
That timing demonstrates the Chinese Communist Party “was concerned about the activity happening there as news of the virus was spreading,” the Republican report argues.
Satellite imagery of Wuhan in September and October that year showed a significant increase in hospital visits and internet searches for pneumonia-like symptoms now known to be COVID, the report says.
Still, the Military World Games continued that October and some athletes “carried the virus back to their home countries – creating one of the earliest super spreader events in the world,” McCaul said.
The report accuses Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance as well as the Wuhan lab’s “bat woman” lead scientist Shi Zhengli of lying about the origins and dismissing the lab-leak theory as a crackpot conspiracy.
Daszak should be subpoenaed to appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to “answer the many questions his inconsistent – and in some instances outright and knowingly inaccurate – statements have raised,” McCaul said.
The report also called for Congress to “sanction scientists at the WIV and CCP officials who participated in this coverup.”
“This was the greatest coverup of all time and has caused the deaths of more than four million people around world, and people must be held responsible,” McCaul said.
President Biden in May ordered US intelligence agencies to accelerate their hunt for the origins of the virus and report back in 90 days.
A source familiar with current intelligence assessments told Reuters that the intelligence community has not reached a firm conclusion on whether the virus leaked from the lab.
With Post wires