There may finally be movement on getting to the bottom of exactly what role the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — which has reportedly received $600,000 in U.S. tax dollars via grant money awarded by a unit of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) via the EcoHealth Alliance to study coronaviruses in bats — played in the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana are successful in a new legislative proposal called the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2021, President Joe Biden will be directed to declassify American intelligence already collected examining those links — and shed light on the role of the NIH unit that approved the grant to the WIV, Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, which sidestepped official review of the grant by a federal oversight board, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
According to the proposal, the goal is to “(A) identify the origin of COVID–19 as expeditiously as possible, and (B) use that information to take all appropriate measures to prevent a similar pandemic from occurring again.”
Hawley also invoked “cancel culture” as a motivating force behind the proposal.
“For over a year, anyone asking questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology has been branded as a conspiracy theorist. The world needs to know if this pandemic was the product of negligence at the Wuhan lab, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has done everything it can to block a credible investigation,” Hawley said in a statement announcing the proposal’s introduction in the Senate.
“That’s why the Biden administration must declassify what it knows about the Wuhan lab and Beijing’s attempts to cover up the origin of the pandemic,” Hawley stated.
“Identifying the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic 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,” Braun said in the statement.
The legislative move follows concerns about the World Health Organization’s internal investigation in which “the WHO gave Beijing veto power over which American scientists would be appointed to the team tasked with producing a joint report with Chinese scientists on the origins of the virus.”
The Wall Street Journal noted in a long report examining the WHO investigation that the only American scientist Beijing allowed — Peter Daszak, a zoologist and president of EcoHealth Alliance — was compromised because of his associations with the very organization that had provided funding to the WIV.
Dr. Daszak had experience hunting for the origins of emerging human viruses in animals, including 16 years working with researchers in China. He was on a team that pinpointed bats as the source of the coronavirus behind SARS.
Some U.S. officials and scientists were concerned some of his nonprofit’s work in China posed a conflict of interest. EcoHealth had in past years provided funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology as part of a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The WIV is at the center of assertions by the Trump administration that the pandemic virus could have come from a lab, and Dr. Daszak had publicly dismissed the possibility.
Hawley made news in April of 2020 by introducing legislation that would allow U.S. citizens to sue the Chinese government for COVID-19-related damages.