Since April of 2020, experts have voiced concerns that the novel coronavirus may have originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. More than a year later, the world has yet to determine exactly where and how the outbreak that killed millions around the world and devastated the global economy began.
"For over a year, anyone asking questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology has been branded as a conspiracy theorist," Hawley said in a Thursday statement. "The world needs to know if this pandemic was the product of negligence at the Wuhan lab but the CCP has done everything it can to block a credible investigation."
He added that the "Biden administration must declassify what it knows about the Wuhan lab and Beijing’s attempts to cover up the origin of the pandemic."
Braun similarly said that identifying the origins of COVID-19 "is vital for preventing future pandemics, and as investigations and research into the origins of the virus continue, the Biden administration should declassify intelligence related to any potential links between biological research laboratories in Wuhan, China and the COVID-19 pandemic."
International and Chinese medical experts with the World Health Organization's Chinese counterpart in March visited Wuhan while conducting its investigation into the origins of the virus but concluded that the virus was "likely to very likely" transmitted from an animal reservoir to an animal host, followed by subsequent spread within that intermediate host that then transmits it to humans.
The researchers also said the idea that the virus may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was "extremely unlikely."
The report called for further investigation in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.
Experts, however, sounded the alarm following the report. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the research team’s assessment on whether coronavirus entered the human population as a result of a laboratory incident was not "extensive enough."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said medical experts and the global community "all deserve greater transparency" in regard to the WHO findings, adding that the report lacked crucial information and provided only a "partial, incomplete picture" of the origins of the virus.
Atlantic Council senior fellow and WHO adviser Jamie Metzl said on "The Ingraham Angle" that while it's possible "COVID-19 began through a zoonotic jump through animal hosts," it's also possible "that it comes from an accidental lab leak."
Others, especially those in the media, have pushed back against speculation that the virus originated in a lab. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, for example, in March quoted the WHO's belief that the coronavirus arose naturally and noted China's conspiracy theory that the virus might have "multiple" origins, including "U.S. military labs," which he called "unsubstantiated."
Hawley was the first member of Congress to call for an international investigation into China’s handling of the virus in April of 2020 and introduced legislation to allow U.S. citizens to sue the Chinese government for COVID-19-related damages.
Fox News' Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.