Today, the Minority Watch staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) released an interim report titled “An analysis of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The staff’s interim report summarizes a review to date of publicly available and open source information related to the potential origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“More than one million Americans have died from COVID-19 and tens of millions have died from this virus worldwide. In addition to the tragic loss of life, over the past three years we have suffered the social, educational and economic costs of a global pandemic,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, States in the foreword to the interim report.
“With COVID-19 still among us, it is critical that we continue international efforts to uncover additional information regarding the origins of this deadly virus,” Senator Burr continues. “I hope this report will guide the World Health Organization and other international institutions and researchers as they continue their planned work to continue investigating the origins of this virus. Discovering the answers to this critical question is imperative for our national and international ability to ensure that a pandemic of this scale and magnitude does not happen again.
“My ultimate goal with this report is to provide a clearer picture of what we know, so far, about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 so that we can continue to work together to be better prepared to respond to future public health threats. I believe this interim report does exactly that.
Experts have offered two prevailing theories about the origins of the virus: (1) the virus is the result of natural zoonotic spread or (2) the virus infected humans through a research-related incident. This report has reviewed open source and publicly available information regarding the origins of the virus.
Although it remains possible that SARS-CoV-2 arose as a result of natural zoonotic spillover, facts and evidence found in earlier documented zoonotic spillover events have not, to date, been identified in connection with this pandemic. These shortcomings include the inability to identify the original reservoir host, the inability to identify a candidate intermediate host species, and the lack of serological or epidemiological evidence showing transmission from animals to humans, among others described in this report. These evidence gaps make it difficult to treat the natural zoonotic fallout theory as the presumed origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Substantial evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of a research-related incident associated with a lab in Wuhan, China. Research-related incident consistent with early epidemiology showing rapid spread of virus exclusively in Wuhan, with first calls for help located in same district as original campus of Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in the center of Wuhan. The WIV is an epicenter of advanced coronavirus research, where researchers collected samples and experimented with high-risk coronaviruses.
This report describes a pattern of persistent biosafety issues at WIV, as indicated by a series of patents and procurements relevant to the biocontainment of a highly pathogenic virus, such as SARS-CoV-2. This report also presents a series of management and training issues at the WIV, further indicating biosafety issues and an unsafe working environment for laboratory staff. The research-related incident hypothesis also explains the low genetic diversity of the earliest known human infections of SARS-CoV-2 and the inability to identify an intermediate host and any animal infection prior to human cases of COVID-19.
The interim report of this investigation concludes that SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting global COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident associated with research into the coronavirus in Wuhan, China.
You can read the full interim report here.