China continues to block efforts to determine Covid’s origins, lawmakers say

Lawmakers said on Sunday that it remained impossible to determine with any certainty the origin of Covid-19 due to continued obstruction by China’s government.

“We have so few facts because the Chinese regime has been obfuscating,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sunday’s discussion followed reports late last month that the Department of Energy had concluded that Covid-19 most likely began with an accidental lab leak in China — a position it shares with the FBI.

However, other US agencies have said they believe it is likely due to natural transmission from animals to humans.

“We have so few facts that different agencies will inevitably reach different conclusions,” Himes said.

Himes is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. His view was shared by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio).

“There’s no direct evidence, we don’t have China admitting it, we don’t have Wuhan Lab handing these things over,” Turner said, referring to the city that is home to several labs and where the virus first circulated at the end of 2019.

Late. Mark Warner (D-Va.) also blamed China’s refusal to be open and honest about Covid-19 for continued questions about its origins.

“If this virus had originated virtually anywhere else, we would have had the world’s scientists there,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He also told host Shannon Bream: “You know, at the end of the day, we’ve got to keep looking and we’ve got to make sure, in terms of future pandemics, that we can access where the source of these diseases occurs much earlier.”

Debate over the origins of Covid-19 has political implications, with recent reports fueling calls in conservative circles for China to be punished in some way for triggering it. More than a million deaths in the United States has been attributed to the coronavirus; the worldwide total approaches 7 million.

Spokesman for the National Security Council John Kirby said last Monday that the US government had still not reached an agreement on how the pandemic started. President Joe Biden did not speak on the subject last week.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Energy Department report supported the view he had back in 2020 when he was part of the Trump administration.

“Make no mistake, this is a Chinese virus that came out of the lab,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Pompeo also claimed that US funding for international research could have played a role in the development of the virus – a theory that Anthony Fauci, the now-retired top medical pandemic adviser, rejected when it first emerged – and that China’s leadership had difficult to know “the full extent” of what happened by destroying documents and censoring journalists.

Another perspective on the various theories of origin came from Leana Wen, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner and professor at George Washington University.

“I think at this point there’s circumstantial evidence on both sides,” she said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” “but there’s one thing that the intelligence community has found and has really been saying unanimously since early on, which is that this was not intentional. This was not a bioweapon or something that China or scientists or whatever politicians or political leaders were trying to do.”

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