On January 28, 2020, I was the first member of Congress to stand on the House floor and discuss my concerns about a novel virus in China – soon to be known as COVID-19.
And today with over three million lives lost, critical questions remain unanswered. Is the virus naturally occurring, or it is the result of lab manipulation?
Regardless, if it is naturally occurring or not, we need to determine if it was accidentally leaked from a lab.
Unfortunately, thus far minimal records have been made available, many records and samples have been destroyed, gag orders placed, social media censored, all the while the trail of truth is getting colder every day.
As we all now know, COVID-19 was first found to infect humans living in close proximity to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in late 2019.
The idea that it started at a wet market has long since been disproven, as multiple infections occurred weeks and months (late 2019) before the wet market cluster. Of further note, horseshoe bats, which carry the virus, are only found in Yunnan province hundreds of miles away, and yet have a range of less than 50 miles.
Since there were no original infections in Yunnan, it would only track that if COVID-19 was a naturally occurring virus, it had to have been carefully transported to WIV like many similar viruses have, or somewhere close by. This is certainly a possibility.
Like most coronaviruses, COVID-19 jumps to humans from bats through an intermediate host. It’s also important to recall in 2002 for the SARS virus, the originating species (bat), and the intermediate host (civet) were determined in four months.
For MERS, in 2012, it took nine months to identify the originating species (bat) and the intermediate host (camel). Additionally, multiple mutant precursor viruses were found in both instances.
On the other hand, we are now 15 months into COVID-19, and despite the sequencing of over 80,000 animals, no originating host or intermediate species has been found. Significantly, the lack of any precursor viruses identified further points towards a lab altered virus.
Either a naturally occurring virus was carefully brought to the WIV, where it escaped, or possibly to the nearby WIV vicinity by someone, and it broke free, or COVID-19 was at least partly engineered at a lab in Wuhan.
There is further evidence supporting the theory this was a lab-altered virus that escaped, or an earlier altered virus could have spontaneously mutated into COVID-19 and escaped. Many theories exist including highly controversial Viral Gain of Function experiments, which could theoretically produce this "super-virus."
Certainly, the spike protein is of interest with its ability to extra-ordinarily and preferentially bind to human lung cells over bats, and to quote Nobel laureate David Baltimore, "When I first saw the furin cleavage site in the viral sequence, with its arginine codons, I said to my wife it was the smoking gun for the origin of the virus... These features make a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin for SARS2."
All this being said, we don’t know for sure. These are all only hypotheses and only complete access to all the data and samples – if they still exist – will determine the truth.
Of one final note, we need to know to what extent, if any, National Institutes of Health funding used by the WIV was involved in the viral studies that could have led to this scenario.
In approximately two weeks, the U.S. will be represented at the World Health Assembly where we need to ally with all nations and fight for a full and unrestricted investigation of the origin of COVID-19.
We must demand full access to all relevant records, samples, and key personnel. If bad actors continue to obfuscate and prevent this investigation from happening, we can’t take no for an answer.
Regardless, Congress must start our own parallel investigation now.