Sen. Marco Rubio releases COVID-19 origins report detailing suspicious behavior in China

Sen. Marco Rubio released Wednesday a report offering a “mountain of circumstantial evidence” that the coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China, instead of spilling over from nature.

The 328-page report from Mr. Rubio, Florida Republican, traces efforts to study and manipulate coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the lead-up to the fall of 2019, when the virus began to rip through the central Chinese metropolis.

It says the lab and a U.S.-funded grantee wanted funding in 2018 to create a coronavirus clone with a furin cleavage site, a distinct feature that was found in the pandemic-causing virus but no related viruses.

They were turned down, but the report says Chinese authorities may have proceeded with risky work.

Chinese authorities unexpectedly shut down its online virus database in the middle of the night on Sept. 12, 2019, and advised the Wuhan airport on how to do a drill for an outbreak of a novel coronavirus.

On Sept. 21, a Wuhan resident “known only as Su died from what a Chinese biostatistician believes may have been COVID-19,” the report said.

In the weeks that followed, lawmakers in Beijing reviewed new biosecurity measures and officials documented some cases of COVID-19 in November 2019 but kept it hidden, the report said.

“After years of censorship, there is growing evidence that some type of lab accident is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Rubio said.

Mr. Rubio’s report also said Chinese officials determined a wet market in Wuhan was likely not the source of the virus, even though it remained the leading theory among scientists and officials and is still cited as a possible source.

At the same time, Beijing took steps to strengthen lab biosafety and prevent unauthorized research, the report said.

“Just as Beijing was denying the possibility that COVID-19 came from a lab on the world stage, it was warning its own officials of such risks and rolling out new measures to prevent lab accidents,” the report said.

The Rubio report adds momentum to Capitol Hill efforts to determine how the virus reached humans, killing about 7 million people worldwide and more than 1 million in the U.S.

However, the report’s authors acknowledge they produced an aggregate picture of the situation in Wuhan and not a “smoking gun” that shows the virus’s origin.

An April report from Sen. Roger Marshall, Kansas Republican, said two leaks from Chinese labs in the fall of 2019 are the most likely sources of the coronavirus pandemic.

The White House says President Biden takes finding the origins seriously, pointing to a variety of intelligence reviews that have produced conflicting results.

Mr. Biden recently signed legislation that requires the director of national intelligence to declassify and report to Congress within 90 days on possible ties between the virus and the lab in Wuhan.

Scientists remain divided over how the virus first reached the human population. They say it could have come from nature, perhaps through an intermediary species between bats and humans.

Others, including former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, say it is more likely that the virus leaked from the Wuhan lab. They point to odd characteristics of the virus and the Chinese communist government’s early efforts to downplay the virus and shroud details about its work at the lab.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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