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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called on the Biden administration to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for covering up the origins of COVID-19 as the hypothesis that the virus originated in a Wuhan virology lab gains mainstream credibility among scientists.
In an interview on "Sunday Morning Futures" on Fox News, Cotton discussed a letter he signed with seven other Republican lawmakers including Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pressing that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for answers on allegations that the U.S. funded gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to make pathogens like SARS-CoV-2 deadlier or more easily transmissible.
During a May 11 Senate hearing on the pandemic response, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci denied that NIH has ever funded "gain of function research" at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci said that $600,000 in NIH subgrants that were diverted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology by a nonprofit group called the EcoHealth Alliance were used to study coronaviruses in bats and were not used for gain of function research.
On Sunday, Cotton told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that Dr. Fauci was "playing word games" with the NIH funding.
"Dr. Fauci has been to Congress, and he said this absolutely did not happen. But Dr. Fauci is playing word games," Cotton said. "So, the money that the NIH gave went to an American organization, which turned around and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to these Wuhan labs to investigate coronaviruses and, yes, to find ways to make them more contagious and more dangerous."
"And we asked [NIH Director] Francis Collins, who's Dr. Fauci's boss, to come clean, to tell us exactly what was happening, why this research was being funded, as you point out, Maria, during a time in which the Obama administration had explicitly banned this kind of gain of function research, research into making some of the world's deadliest pathogens even more dangerous," he added, suggesting that some "public health bureaucrats" may have violated the Obama administration's 2014 moratorium on gain of function research.
Last year, Cotton was accused of promoting a "fringe" conspiracy theory when he raised the mere possibility that the Chinese government may have lied about the origins of the virus and that it could have originated in a Wuhan lab. Articles or posts on social media that advanced the "lab leak" hypothesis were labeled misinformation and suppressed by content moderators for contradicting the "scientific consensus" that COVID-19 originated in nature.
But now there is a growing community of scientists and credentialed health experts calling for renewed investigation into the "viable" theory that COVID-19 was accidentally released from a lab conducting gain of function research. There is no direct evidence that this happened, but scientists are not dismissing the possibility and are asking the federal government to attempt to find the truth.
Here's Tom Cotton discussing possible origins. While he goes a little further than I would go, overall he is epistemically responsible.\n\nIn response, the Washington Post said he was peddling a "fringe" conspiracy that was "debunked"\nhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/16/tom-cotton-coronavirus-conspiracy/\u00a0\u2026\nhttps://medium.com/dfrlab/u-s-senator-tom-cotton-amplified-a-coronavirus-conspiracy-denounced-by-scientists-1b64790c4013\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/4R0xXJT3yj— Chris Said (@Chris Said) 1621788112
An explosive U.S. intelligence report that came out over the weekend said that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019 that they required hospitalization. The report suggests COVID-19 was spreading in China much earlier than the Chinese government admitted, which vindicates Cotton for warning last year that it is likely China was "lying to the world" about the coronavirus outbreak.
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