U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas expressed frustration Thursday with an inconclusive federal investigation into origins of COVID-19 and the inability of the United States to directly hold China responsible for a pandemic that so far killed more than 650,000 Americans.
The Republican offered an eight-point strategy for exploring the path taken by the coronavirus and "deliver the message that the Chinese must show us the data and be transparent with the world." In August, the senator asserted there was evidence China knew of a laboratory leak in Wuhan several months before the initial COVID-19 cases were documented in the United States.
"It's outrageous that a comprehensive global investigation on the origins of COVID-19 has still not been carried out," Marshall said. "If China continues to obfuscate and prevent this investigation from happening, we can't take no for an answer."
In late August, an unclassified summary of an assessment released by the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not conclusively identify origins of the virus that caused COVID-19. The 90-day intelligence review ordered by President Joe Biden in May concluded that a theory about laboratory leakage of the virus and the hypothesis that it was due to natural exposure were both plausible. A more definitive assessment will likely require additional cooperation from China, the report said.
"China's cooperation most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19," according to the intelligence summary shared by Marshall. "Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States."
In 2020, President Donald Trump repeatedly held China responsible for the coronavirus "plague" and declared China was at fault for a pandemic that "should never have happened."
Marshall, a physician who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology in Great Bend, said it was time to integrate U.S. national security agencies and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to better respond to public health threats.
He recommended sanctions and immigration restraints against China due to "substantial evidence that COVID-19 was spreading throughout China in September or October of 2019." He said the "Chinese intentionally misled America and the world about what they knew and slowed our response."
Congress ought to consider legislation suspending portions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to enable American citizens to file lawsuits against the Chinese Communist Party for wrongful death and damages, Marshall said.
Marshall called for a moratorium on research on "potentially pandemic pathogens." It wasn't clear how that might influence work at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, on lethal diseases threatening America's animal agricultural industry and public health.
He proposed the Biden administration release classified information back to September 2019 that might be useful to a COVID-19 inquiry. He requested release of additional information on U.S.-financed research projects linked to Ecohealth Alliance conducted in China.
The U.S. Senate should place a hold on all federal agency and department nominees until release of relevant documents to Congress, he said.
In addition, the senator pointed to reports suggesting Anthony Fauci, who has worked during the pandemic in the Trump and Biden administrations, was "dishonest" about the National Institutes of Health support for coronavirus research at Wuhan Institute of Virology. The senator said Congress ought to subpoena printed and electronic communications of Fauci and other relevant government officials.
"There are many reasons why we need to get to the bottom of the origins of COVID-19," Marshall said. "As a physician, I think we always need to know the what, where, how and perhaps why whenever any infectious disease outbreak occurs in order to prevent or minimize future infections and to develop future vaccines as well as cures.
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