Morgan Griffith: Investigating the origins of COVID-19
The origins of the COVID-19 pandemic remain shrouded in mystery, but uncovering what we can is essential to preventing future pandemics.
Two theories now dominate speculation about the development of the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019. The first is that it passed from an animal to humans naturally, possibly through a creature sold in one of the city’s wet markets. The other is that the coronavirus escaped due to a laboratory leak from the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology. Work conducted at the Wuhan laboratory included studies on coronaviruses in bats, the likely culprit for COVID-19.
Tracing the origins of COVID-19 has been made more difficult by the Chinese Communist Party, a regime that traffics in deception and dishonesty as a matter of routine. From the outset, China’s Communist oligarchy covered up the true danger of COVID-19 as well as its extent. The rest of the world paid the price for their fecklessness.
A recent World Health Organization (WHO) investigation into COVID-19’s origins was strictly limited by the Chinese government, which also received its report in advance. Its conclusions were discounted by the Biden Administration due to China’s heavy influence on the investigation, and even the WHO’s Director General, who himself has strong links with China, said further study was needed.
But uncovering the truth need not depend on a newfound commitment to transparency and accountability in Beijing. Our country’s diplomatic, security, and public health agencies have information about the origins of COVID-19. None of them may have the full picture, and some of them may lack the capacity to analyze the data they have on their own.
Putting together the various bits and chunks of information possessed by the executive branch can give us a better glimpse of the whole picture, just as a puzzle’s image can be grasped even if a few pieces are missing. If you put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of the White House and are missing fifteen pieces, you will still recognize the White House.
Extracting the information held by the executive branch is the object of the COVID-19 origins investigation launched by House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans.
Our investigation began on March 18, 2021 with a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) signed by the Committee’s Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on Health Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and myself, the Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. We called on the NIH to conduct an independent, scientific investigation and requested information and documents the agency has on the work done at the Wuhan lab.
From 2014 to 2019, NIH delivered federal grant money to a scientific nonprofit named EcoHealth Alliance. EcoHealth in turn sent $598,000 of those grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study coronaviruses in bats. We need to know more details about this work, so Leaders Rodgers, Guthrie, and I made that request in a letter to EcoHealth.
After the Sinclair Broadcast Group reported that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory had studied COVID-19’s origins and found the lab leak theory plausible in a classified report, we asked for a classified briefing on the report.
We have also requested information and classified briefings from the Departments of State and Homeland Security on any relevant material they have.
Scientific voices have called for a full inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, including examining the possibility of a lab leak. Dr. Robert Redfield, who was Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the pandemic, expressed his belief that a lab leak was responsible.
At a recent Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, the Chair, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), said she planned to hold a hearing on the topic of the coronavirus’ origins.
A hearing would be an important step forward. If a laboratory accident was behind the coronavirus, we need to know. It is important for accountability, but also for developing better practices to make sure this never happens again.
To learn more about the Energy and Commerce Committee Republican investigation, visit https://republicans-energycommerce.house.gov/the-covid-19-origins-investigation/.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Morgan Griffith represents Virginia’s Ninth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.