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Intel community hid dissenting views on COVID-19’s origins, House GOP report says

Medical workers at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, China. (Xiong Qi/Xinhua via AP/TNS)
May 25, 2021

The U.S. intelligence community (IC) suppressed dissenting views on the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, including views tying the pandemic to a Chinese virology lab outbreak, according to a report by Republicans in the House Intelligence Committee who assessed the intelligence community’s initial response to the pandemic.

The report, titled “COVID-19 and the Wuhan Institute of Virology” and released last week, states “We believe the IC failed to properly support policymakers with timely products and analysis.” The GOP report further states, “Republican Members are aware of allegations that the IC suppressed dissenting views related to the origins of the pandemic and that the community relied upon ‘outside’ experts with concerning yet undisclosed entanglements.”

The report did not specify which outside experts had may have had conflicts of interest as they advised the IC’s efforts to investigate COVID-19. The report did, however, name the EcoHealth Alliance. Between 2014 and 2019, EcoHealth Alliance reportedly directed as much as $600,000 in grants, from the U.S. National Institute of Health, to the WIV for the purpose of studying coronaviruses in bat habitats in China. The Washington Times further reported EcoHealth Alliance president, Peter Daszak, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the theory that COVID-19 leaked from a lab. The new GOP report also states EcoHealth Alliance was awarded more than $3.7 million to examine the “risk of future coronavirus (CoV) emergence…in China.”

In 2020, during the early efforts to investigate COVID-19’s origins, then-President Donald Trump raised the theory that the virus could have originated from a lab in China. CNN reported at the time that Trump was contradicted by the intelligence community and that intelligence officials felt pressure to look into the lab outbreak theory. The dispute about the origin of the virus appeared to have become a political issue, with the New York Times reporting in April of last year that, “Trump’s aides and Republicans in Congress have sought to blame China for the pandemic in part to deflect criticism of the administration’s mismanagement of the crisis in the United States.”

Fox News reported that in a recent letter to Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines, Republican lawmakers wrote the allegation dissenting views surrounding COVID-19’s origin being suppressed and investigators relied on outside experts with conflicts of interest, “casts doubt on the validity of early judgments as well as the analytic integrity of COVID-19-related intelligence reporting.”

The GOP report calls on the intelligence community to provide all intelligence, including any analytic products produced either through federally funded research or outside experts, regarding the origins of COVID-19. The report further calls on the IC to provide all intelligence related to illnesses at the Wuhan virology lab, WIV research on “RaTG13” and “Gain of Function” and links between the WIV and the Chinese military.

In recent days, Dr. Anthony Fauci has also voiced support for further investigation into whether COVID-19 and the WIV are linked. Fauci had previously said evidence looking into the origin of the virus is “very, very strongly leaning toward this [virus] could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”