Sunday, December 4, 2022
Home SCIENCE Covid lab leak theory supported in Senate Republican report

Covid lab leak theory supported in Senate Republican report


The Senate Republican staff has produced a report presenting his argument that the most likely origin of the coronavirus Pandemic was something of a “research-related incident” in China, citing security lapses in laboratories there and arguing there are evidence gaps in published scientific research pointing to a natural origin of animals sold in a market in wuhan.

The report, while not a formal scientific document, represents a possible template for a future investigative hearing in Congress if Republicans gain control of the House or the Senate, or both, after the midterm elections. The so-called “lab leak” theory is a talking point for some Republicans seeking office, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has promised hearings if his party wins the Senate.

The 35-page “interim” report released Thursday comes from Sen. Richard Burr (RN.C.) and the Republican staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which has been investigating the origin of the virus.

Although the report favors the origin of the “laboratory leak”, it does not rule out a market origin. The report also does not indulge in the most provocative arguments about how SARS-CoV-2 entered the human population. There is no claim that the virus was designed as a biological weapon, for example.

Nor does he mention Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been a frequent target of Paul and other lab leak advocates because his institute helped fund virus research at the Institute of Virology in New York. wuhan.

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The report’s conclusions differ markedly from two peer-reviewed studies published in the journal Science this summer that featured the Huanan Seafood Market as the epicenter of the outbreak. A to study found a geographic target in the market among the first cases of the disease that was named covid-19. the other to study presented an analysis of two early strains of the virus suggesting that there were two and perhaps many more different infections of the virus from animals sold in the market.

Scientists who favor the origin of the market do not know which animals were infected or where they came from. No animals in the market were tested before the market was closed and cleaned.

“Critical evidence supporting a natural zoonotic spillover is lacking. While the absence of evidence is not evidence in itself, the lack of evidence supporting a zoonotic spill or spills, three years after the pandemic, is highly problematic,” says Dr. new report from the Republican Party.

Michael Worobey, a professor at the University of Arizona and a co-author of both studies published in Science, said the new GOP report is “completely wrong with the science.”

“As the saying goes, when you mix science and politics, you get politics,” he said.

Worobey said the hypothesis of some kind of laboratory incident was worth investigating, and was among scientists who wrote a letter to Science in May 2021 arguing that all possible origins should be investigated. But he said his and other scientists’ research points to a market origin.

He said he is willing to testify if Republicans call hearings.

David Relman, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who was one of the experts interviewed by the committee’s staff, praised the report as a credible effort to gather a wealth of information, including on safety issues in Chinese labs.

“I think it’s a sober and fair treatment of what is largely a circumstantial body of evidence that supports both hypotheses,” Relman said. “But in particular it raises questions about the assumption that a natural spill must have been the cause.”

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan and co-author of one of the Science articles, dismissed the new GOP report as “speculative agitation” and calls it a partisan document.

“This is in the service of trying to establish something that would be politically advantageous for a party,” he said. “It’s to make it easier to essentially have proof tests for people’s adversaries, which unfortunately has come to include scientists.”

The report comes in the final days of an election cycle in which several Republicans, including Paul, who is on the health panel, have accused Fauci of withholding information about the origins of the virus.

“We owe it to the Americans who have lost their lives to the virus, their families, and those still struggling with the social and economic fallout from the pandemic, to continue to investigate the origins of the coronavirus,” said Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan. ) in a statement Thursday, calling on Fauci to “release all texts, emails, communications and grant records fully and uncensored.”

Burr, who is retiring this year, has taken a more conciliatory approach to Fauci, praising the work of the long-term government scientist at a hearing last month and trying to focus the report on broader biosafety issues.

While it concludes that an investigation-related incident is the “most likely” source of the outbreak, the new report stops short of a closed case declaration. Burr’s introductory note is equivocal.

“This conclusion is not intended to be decisive,” states the main text of the report. “The lack of transparency from government and public health officials in the [People’s Republic of China] regarding the origins of SARS-CoV-2 precludes reaching a more definitive conclusion. If additional information becomes publicly available and is subject to independent verification, these conclusions may be subject to review and reconsideration.”

The panel report was led by Robert Kadlec, a Burr adviser who served as assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration.

Some health officials, including Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Trump administration, have reiterated their belief that a lab leak in China is the most likely cause of the pandemic.

“I think you will see that the preponderance of evidence for the origins of Covid-19 is that it does not have a natural origin. That’s my own opinion,” Redfield told a House committee investigating the government’s response to the coronavirus in March.

In a statement Thursday, the top Democrat on the panel reiterated that a separate investigation into the origins of the virus is underway.

“[I]n 2021, I announced a bipartisan oversight effort with Senator Burr on the origins of this virus. The HELP Committee continues the bipartisan work on this oversight report,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate health committee.



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