A bipartisan bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate calls on the federal government to conduct its own investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, including whether or not the virus originally leaked from a Chinese lab known as the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The lab leak theory — popular among many Americans and reportedly suspected by several U.S. officials and agencies— was dismissed as "extremely unlikely" by a team of World Health Organization investigators who flew to Wuhan earlier this year to probe the origins of the pandemic, which has now claimed the lives of nearly 3 million people worldwide.
However, since the launch of the WHO investigation, officials from the Trump and Biden administrations have expressed concerns about its integrity and transparency. Now a bipartisan group of lawmakers are urging the government to review all the intelligence the U.S. has on the matter and produce its own report.
The 281-page bill, called the Strategic Competition Act, was introduced last week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Chairman, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), and ranking member, Republican Sen. Jim Risch (Idaho). Its overarching intention is to comprehensively confront the economic challenge and national security threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party, and part of that is assessing the CCP's potential cover-up of the origins of the coronavirus.
The proposed legislation, if passed, would require "an assessment of the most likely source or origin of the SARS–CoV–2 virus, including a detailed review of all information the United States possesses that it has identified as potentially relevant to the source or origin of the SARS–CoV–2 virus, including zoonotic transmission and spillover, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or other sources of origin, transmission, or spillover," the bill states.
Elsewhere, the bill calls for "an account of efforts by the [People's Republic of China] to cooperate with, impede, or obstruct any inquiry or investigation to determine the source and transmission of SARS–CoV–2 virus, including into a possible lab leak, or to create or spread misinformation or disinformation regarding the source and transmission of SARS–CoV–2 virus by the PRC or CCP."
The legislation also calls for an account to be given about the U.S. government's funding of coronavirus research at the WIV, including controversial gain-of-function research — which involves genetically enhancing pathogens for the purpose of predicting which may become especially dangerous to the human population.
News broke last summer that the National Institutes of Health had been financially backing research into bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab prior to the pandemic. Then this month, it was revealed that some of the funding for that risky research had bypassed security protocols.
A pair of leaked State Department cables showed that U.S. officials visiting the WIV reported back concerns about inadequate safety measures and risky research being conducted there in 2018.
(H/T: White Coat Waste Project)