A group of Congressional Republicans are stepping up efforts to obtain files on a possible link between a U.S. medical research agency and a laboratory in Wuhan, China – a link that is still highly contested amid the ongoing investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
In an exclusive interview, senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge spoke with Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who, along with other Republicans, requested these documents from the National Institutes of Health, including in a recent letter shared with CBS News.
“We want to know what was funded by taxpayer dollars,” said McMorris Rodgers, the top Republican on the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
The NIH recently confirmed that funds went to the Wuhan lab through the EcoHealth Alliance, a US research group, but stressed that its request “did not propose research to improve a coronavirus so that it is more transmissible “.
In the recent letter, McMorris Rodgers and other House Republicans said the NIH had “not provided a single document” on “whether NIH funding played a role in risky research in China.”
When asked why these records were still important 16 months after the start of the pandemic, McMorris Rodgers replied, “Think of every loved one we’ve lost, every healthcare worker who has been on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus or every student now struggling with mental health because of isolation. We deserve these answers. “
In a statement to CBS News, the NIH said it “provided the information requested by [Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers] both in a letter and a subsequent briefing … [and] is currently working on providing additional information. “
When asked if Herridge asked if providing the specific documents she requested would remove the policy, McMorris Rodgers said, “Absolutely. We need to know the origins of COVID-19.”
Democratic committee chairman Frank Pallone of New Jersey told CBS News he is awaiting the results of an intelligence review ordered by President Biden.
“It’s a complex issue that has unfortunately become politicized by Republicans,” Pallone said. “The administration must have time to complete this important work. In the meantime, the committee will continue to focus on expanding the COVID-19 vaccination program, ending this pandemic, and examining how we can be better prepared for the next one. I also support an independent international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China, as it is essential that it be properly investigated by independent scientific experts around the world.
A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, David Feith, told CBS News he discovered security issues at the Wuhan lab. “Work with very dangerous viruses has been done at biosafety level 2, which has been compared to the safety level in pretty much a dentist’s office,” he said.
Earlier this week, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to Mr Biden, objected to the claim that US funds supported the research on the “gain of function” which could have made the virus more dangerous.
In a heated exchange at a hearing, Republican Senator Rand Paul asked Fauci, “Knowing that it is a crime to lie in Congress, would you like to withdraw your May 11 statement where you claimed the NIH did not had ever funded research on the gain of office in Wuhan? “
“Senator Paul, I have never lied to Congress and I do not withdraw that statement.… You don’t know what you are talking about, quite frankly,” Fauci replied.