Lab leak most likely to cause pandemic, Energy Dept says
On Tuesday, Mr. Gallagher will hold the new committee’s first hearing, which will consider the threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to the United States. Future hearings, Mr Gallagher said, will look at biosecurity and China’s efforts to influence international organizations like the World Health Organization.
“Where our committee can play a role is in finding out what this says about the DNA of the Chinese Communist Party, an organization that was willing to cover up the origins of the pandemic, costing us critical days, months and weeks and millions of lives in the process has been in the process,” Mr Gallagher said in an interview on Sunday.
Chinese officials have repeatedly called the lab leak hypothesis a lie that has no scientific basis and is politically motivated.
Early in the Biden administration, the president ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the pandemic after criticizing a WHO report on the subject. Although there was material that had not been thoroughly examined by intelligence officials, the review ultimately failed to produce a new consensus within the agencies.
The WHO’s March 2021 report said it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus accidentally leaked from a laboratory. But China appointed half of the scientists who wrote the report and exercised great control over it. American officials are largely opposed to this work.
Intelligence agencies have said they don’t believe there is evidence the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 was intentionally created as a biological weapon. But they’ve said it’s a matter of legitimate debate whether it arose naturally, perhaps from a market in Wuhan, or accidentally escaped from a lab.
Anthony Ruggiero, a Foundation for Defense of Democracies scholar and former National Security Council staffer who focused on biodefense issues during the Trump administration, said he believes China is still hiding “crucial information” about how the virus originated. He said the lab leak theory should not be dismissed.
“The origin of the lab leak for the Covid-19 pandemic is not and was not a conspiracy theory,” he said.
Benjamin Mueller and Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed coverage.