Chinese scientists manipulated lethal viruses under unsafe conditions at the Wuhan Institute of Virology prior to the coronavirus outbreak, fueling suspicions the pandemic was caused by a lab leak, according to a new congressional report.
The Wuhan lab was engaged in "dangerous genetic modification research on coronaviruses at unsafe biosafety levels," according to the report, authored by the minority staff on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The report includes revelations about unsafe working conditions at the lab, as well as new information indicating the Chinese government sought to mislead the world about the experiments taking place there. Congressional investigators say researchers at the lab "had the ability to genetically modify coronaviruses as early as 2016 without leaving any trace of that modification." Mounting evidence suggests the coronavirus that is still crippling the world "was accidentally released from a Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory sometime prior to September 12, 2019," according to the report. "It is incumbent upon the United States and likeminded countries around the world to ensure accountability and implement the reforms necessary to prevent the CCP's malfeasance from giving rise to a third pandemic during the 21st century."
The information unearthed by congressional Republicans led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), the House Foreign Affairs Committee's ranking member, is likely to increase pressure on the U.S. government to sanction China and hold it accountable for the coronavirus outbreak. McCaul and his colleagues are recommending the Biden administration also demand a full-scale overhaul of the World Health Organization, which they say aided China in its coverup.
Congressional investigators say Wuhan researchers sounded alarms on the safety of lab environments in China in medical journals well before the virus emerged. A significant number of lab projects also underwent high levels of maintenance and repairs, including on projects related to laboratory animals and hazardous waste. In 2016, French defense officials voiced concern that labs in Wuhan would be used by China for military purposes.
Early in 2020—well after the first indications of the virus's spread—Beijing dispatched People's Liberation Army brass specializing in biological weapons to manage the lab, indicating a military-grade coverup of the virus.