Fox News published an exclusive report late Wednesday in which Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said there is “significant circumstantial evidence” that the COVID-19 outbreak emanated from a Wuhan Institute of Virology leak.

The committee Republicans pushed for the federal government to put “more pressure on China” to carry out a “full, credible investigation” into the origin of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The “lab leak hypothesis” is gaining more attention, despite being labeled as “debunked” or a “conspiracy theory” in the past by fact-checkers. More on that below.

Nunes: Crucial To Get True COVID Origin Story

According to Fox News, Committee Republican Ranking Member Devin Nunes said that it is “crucial for health experts and the U.S. government to understand how the COVID-19 virus originated” in order to prevent “or quickly mitigate future pandemics.” 

Republicans advised, “International efforts to discover the true source of the virus, however, have been stymied by a lack of cooperation from the People’s Republic of China.”

The GOP members added, “Nevertheless, significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

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The group noted China’s “history of research lab leaks resulting in infections” and “dangerous research” on coronaviruses without following “necessary safety protocols, risking the accidental outbreak of a pandemic.”

Republicans cited warnings from U.S. diplomats in China as early as 2017, particularly concerning research Wuhan lab was conducting.

Republicans also pointed to public reports that “several researchers in the Wuhan lab were sickened with COVID-19-like symptoms,” including observers noting that in Fall 2019, some were concerned about the Chinese military’s “involvement in the Wuhan Lab.”

The group wrote, “By contrast, little circumstantial evidence has emerged to support the PRC’s claim that COVID-19 was a natural occurrence, having jumped from some other species to human.”

Republicans Demand Transparency Of U.S. Gov’t Actions

Chinese authorities “have failed to identify the original species that allegedly spread the virus to humans, which is critical to their zoonotic transfer theory,” Republicans contended. 

Committee Republicans insisted there are “clear signs” that U.S. government agencies and academic institutions “may have funded or collaborated in Gain of Function research” at the Wuhan Lab.

“To protect American citizens from future pandemics, the U.S. Government must place more pressure on China to allow full, credible investigations of the source of the COVID-19 pandemic and to allow probes of the likelihood that it resulted from a lab leak,” the report states.

It continued, “The U.S. Government must also provide a full accounting of any American cooperation with the Wuhan lab’s coronavirus research, including the support of these projects through U.S. Government funds.”

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Fox News noted that the group’s intent was to make President Biden and the intelligence community aware of these developments.

“The report was released after Nunes and other GOP members on the committee penned letters to President Biden and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, accusing the intelligence community of failing to provide timely updates on its investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and of not being ‘forthcoming’ about ‘what processes it undertook to make seemingly authoritative statements early in the pandemic about the origins of the virus — conclusions that are now in question,” Fox News reported.

As of last month, President Biden said he had not spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about how the coronavirus might have originated. 

PolitiFact Removes Fact-Check About Lab Leak Hypothesis

In September 2020, PolitiFact published an article titled, “Tucker Carlson guest airs debunked conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was created in a lab”.

They have since removed that fact-check from their database, noting that it is now more widely disputed whether or not the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, China. 

Here’s what PolitiFact says about their “debunked conspiracy theory” article:

Editor’s note, May 17, 2021: When this fact-check was first published in September 2020, PolitiFact’s sources included researchers who asserted the SARS-CoV-2 virus could not have been manipulated. That assertion is now more widely disputed. For that reason, we are removing this fact-check from our database pending a more thorough review. Currently, we consider the claim to be unsupported by evidence and in dispute. The original fact-check in its entirety is preserved below for transparency and archival purposes. Read our May 2021 report for more on the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19.

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