In the US, Republicans have submitted a report claiming evidence that the coronavirus "leaked" from the laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology rather than appearing on the seafood market.
House Foreign Affairs Committee chief Republican Mc McCall said the report was the result of an investigation. McCall called on Congress to impose sanctions on scientists from the Wuhan laboratory and officials of the Chinese Communist Party, to summon American scientist Peter Daszak for interrogation by Congress.
An important point: the report coincides with the statements of Donald Trump when he was in the presidency of the United States. He allegedly "saw evidence of the artificial origin of the coronavirus." But American intelligence did not officially confirm his words.
The Chinese government and Wuhan lab scientists have denied the allegations. In China, the first cases are said to have resulted from animal-to-human transmission in the marketplace.
So, let's take a look at the key points of the new Republican report:
Covid-19 was first discovered in September 2019, not November
The report says the international community may need to revise the date of the first outbreak.
"We believe the virus leaked sometime in late August or early September 2019 (before September 12)," the report says.
Republicans also believe that Chinese Communist Party officials and academics began to cover up the leak when they realized what had happened.
The investigation also says that athletes from several countries who attended the 2019 War Games in Wuhan in late October reported illness with symptoms similar to coronavirus, or shortly after returning home. The report cites available satellite imagery showing increased activity in six hospitals in Wuhan in September and October 2019.
Official version: In January 2020, Chinese researchers reported that the first confirmed cases occurred in December 2019. In March 2020, China tracked the first case on November 17, 2019.
Arguments for the leak theory
The Republican report emphasizes that the virus most likely originated in the Wuhan laboratory and leaked from there due to poor security.
The lab was conducting "functionality enhancement" research, in which scientists genetically modify bacteria or viruses to make them more infectious in order to study more effective preventive measures, such as a vaccine. The committee's report details the Wuhan Institute of Virology's documented research on modifying bat coronaviruses.
- The coronavirus could have been created by humans without leaving any traces of modification. So, in 2005, the American scientist Ralph Barick helped create a method that hides the traces of the genetic modification of the virus. In 2016, scientists working at TID were able to do the same. Therefore, there is no reason to reject the hypothesis.
- Research was conducted in unsafe conditions. Back in 2018, American diplomats raised concerns about safety procedures at a laboratory in Wuhan.
"A natural or genetically modified virus could easily escape from the laboratory and infect people," the report said.
Chinese authorities tried to cover up the leak
The committee's report notes that the following "coincidences" may indicate an attempt to cover up the leak:
The Wuhan Institute of Virology disabled its public virus database on September 12, 2019.
In the months leading up to the outbreak, the Wuhan Biosafety Laboratory requested tenders to overhaul air safety and waste management systems at research facilities that had been operating for less than two years.
"Such a significant repair immediately after the start of operation of the facility seems unusual," the report says.
The report accused the CCP of detaining doctors and disappearing journalists to silence them. The CCP allegedly destroyed laboratory samples and covered up the fact that there was evidence of human-to-human infection.
Republicans have also blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) itself for hiding the real reasons. According to Republicans, she failed to warn the world of an impending pandemic and repeated the CCP's theses, acting like a puppet. UIV scientists and Dr. Peter Dashak allegedly intimidated other scientists who wondered about the possibility of a leak. Daszak was the only American on a WHO research mission in China to declare the laboratory leak hypothesis "highly unlikely."
Attempts to find out the causes of the pandemic up to this point
At the moment, the United States is awaiting the results of an intelligence investigation, as they consider China's data dubious, the country is accused of refusing to cooperate. So, in May, President Joe Biden turned to intelligence with a demand to find data on the origin of Covid-19. Biden gave three months.
In turn, official Beijing has consistently denied accusations of concealing information about the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
In January 2021, WHO experts in zoology, epidemiology, and other disciplines arrived in Wuhan. They spent several weeks studying the possible origins of the pandemic. Then the experts declared the version of the leak from the laboratory unlikely. Instead, the most likely cause of the pandemic was the transmission of coronavirus to humans from bats through an intermediary animal.