NEW: Senate Report Concludes COVID-19 Pandemic Was Likely Caused by Lab Leak in Wuhan

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

An interim report from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Minority oversight staff released Thursday concluded that “SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting COVID-19 global pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident associated with coronavirus research in Wuhan, China,” and declared that “the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy.”


The report, which is only labeled “interim” because it cannot be final without information being withheld by the People’s Republic of China, outlines and documents the exact arguments made here at RedState for at least the past 18 months as to why the natural zoonotic origin theory simply cannot be seriously considered. It also demonstrates that there was research being conducted at the WIV (virus weaponization, or gain-of-function research) that Dr. Anthony Fauci swore under oath was no way, no how happening there, that it was partially funded by American taxpayer dollars, and strongly implies that one such study developed the virus that was eventually engineered into SARS-CoV-2.

While the report’s authors generously state that it’s still possible that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through natural zoonotic transfer, they note that the failure to identify the original host reservoir, the failure to  identify a candidate intermediate host species, and the lack of serological or epidemiological evidence showing transmission from animals to humans, the low genetic diversity of the earliest known SARS-CoV-2 human infections, and other factors as strong arguments against it.

Also, according to the report, there is no published genetic evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating in animals prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the epidemiological and serological evidence shows that when SARS-CoV-2 started infecting humans, it was already “well-adapted for human-to-human transmission,” and that there were only two early variants of the virus, which “had little genetic diversity and were closely related to each other, differing by only two nucleotides out of approximately 29,900 nucleotides.” That suggests, according to the report and according to a June 2021 op-ed by virology and infectious disease expert Dr. Stephen Quay, that the virus was engineered in a laboratory.


Based on what has been documented in prior natural zoonotic transfer occurrences involving coronaviruses or bat viruses, SARS-CoV-2 “likely needed to circulate in an intermediate host to increase the virus’ chances of being able to infect and replicate in humans,” yet three years after the virus emerged, there is still no identified intermediate host for COVID-19, nor is there any information demonstrating where the intermediate species would have first come in contact with humans. That  transmission didn’t occur at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, as advocates of natural zoonotic transfer claim. According to the report:

[T]he genomes of early COVID-19 cases did not show genetic evidence, in the form of adaptive mutations that SARS-CoV-2 recently circulated in another animal species other than humans. Moreover, the genetic similarity between the environmental samples and human viral samples supports the likelihood that the virus found at the Huanan Seafood Market was shed by infected humans, rather than by infected animals.

As noted in a January 2021 State Department memo, the US government was aware that gain-of-function research was being conducted at WIV on an ongoing basis, and that experiments were being done on “RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar).” The memo continued:


“The WIV (Wuhan Institute of Virology) has a published record of conducting ‘gain-of-function’ research to engineer chimeric viruses. But the WIV has not been transparent or consistent about its record of studying viruses similarly to the COVID-19 virus, including ‘RaTG13,’ which it sampled from a cave in Yunnan Province in 2013 after several miners died of SARS-like illness.”

Thursday’s Senate report outlined coronavirus research projects that were ongoing at WIV, highlighting a few points:

Senior coronavirus researcher Shi Zhengli disclosed that in 2018-2020, her team infected civets and humanized mice that expressed human ACE2 receptors with chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses. The results of these experiments have never been published.

The EcoHealth Alliance NIH grants and DARPA grant proposals, in partnership with the WIV, sought to collect and conduct genetic recombination experiments on SARS-related coronaviruses with specific traits that made those viruses a “high-risk” for zoonotic spillover into animals and humans. SARS-CoV-2 shares many of the traits these researchers were interested in finding in SARS-related coronaviruses or interested in engineering such traits if they were not found naturally.

And, several biosafety and biosecurity events at WIV in 2018 and 2019 were noted in the report, as well as evidence of biosafety failures and management and training concerns at the lab. In addition, the rapid development of a vaccine by Chinese researchers — perhaps because they had a head start — was noted as a factor supporting the committee’s conclusion as to the pandemic’s origin and the dismissal of natural zoonotic origin theory. Supporters of that theory were issued a challenge on the final page of the report (emphasis mine):


Based on the analysis of the publicly available information, it appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident. New information, made publicly available and independently verifiable, could change this assessment. However, the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy. The following are critical outstanding questions that would need to be addressed to be able to more definitively conclude the origins of SARS-CoV-2:

  • What is the intermediate host species for SARS-CoV-2? Where did it first infect humans?
  • Where is SARS-CoV-2’s viral reservoir?
  • How did SARS-CoV-2 acquire its unique genetic features, such as its furin cleavage site?

Advocates of a zoonotic origin theory must provide clear and convincing evidence that a natural zoonotic spillover is the source of the pandemic, as was demonstrated for the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak. In other words, there needs to be verifiable evidence that a natural zoonotic spillover actually occurred, not simply that such a spillover could have occurred.

Justin Goodman, Senior Vice President Advocacy & Public Policy at White Coat Waste Project, an advocacy group that’s worked to expose NIH and EcoHealth Alliance malfeasance, issued a statement after the Senate report’s release:


Once again, an authoritative Congressional report has concluded that taxpayer-funded gain-of-function experiments on animals in Wuhan likely caused the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, nearly 3 years into the pandemic, the white coats responsible for probably causing and covering up this global disaster—including Anthony Fauci, EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan lab—have not been held accountable and the NIH continues to brazenly and recklessly bankroll dangerous animal experiments to supercharge coronaviruses with little oversight.  Lab accidents are common and taxpayers in both parties shouldn’t be forced to pay for another pandemic. As the very first group to expose this wasteful government spending in Wuhan, we’re rallying Democrats and Republicans in Congress to stop the money and stop the madness.

The full Senate report can be read here.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos