The U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing on March 8, titled “Investigating the Origins of the New Coronavirus. The Republicans invited three witnesses: Jamie Metzl, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Nicholas Wade, former science and health editor of the New York Times. One witness invited by the Democrats was Paul Auwaerter, former president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
At the hearing, Jamie Metzl accused China of obstructing the international community’s New Crown retrospective investigation, saying he believes there is still a “serious possibility” of an origin related to the study, but he blamed Beijing for doing everything possible to prevent it. “Everyone on the planet has to hold China accountable for this,” he said. But Peter Dasak, president of the U.S. Ecological Health Alliance, which has worked with the Wuhan Virus Institute for 15 years, said in an interview with CNN that the Wuhan Virus Laboratory does not yet possess the virus that triggered the New Crown pneumonia outbreak, so it is unlikely that the virus originated in the Wuhan lab.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, China invited WHO experts to China twice to conduct research on the traceability of the virus. 17 leading international experts formed a joint expert group with Chinese experts for a 28-day study tour in China in early 2021. Peter Dasak (who was also a member of the WHO expert team) stated in an interview with the Associated Press that he “went everywhere I wanted to go and met everyone I wanted to meet. “2 In March 2021, the WHO released a joint China-WHO study on the traceability of the new coronavirus, which identified the introduction of the virus through refrigerated food as “In March 2021, the World Health Organization released a joint China-WHO study on the traceability of the new coronavirus, stating that introduction of the virus through refrigerated food was a “possible route” and that a laboratory leak was “highly unlikely.
Different Opinions from Witnesses and Scientist
At the hearing, Nicholas Wade testified that the evidence pointing to a lab leak is growing. And at the first explosive hearing of the new congressional committee charged with investigating the source of the new coronavirus, Redfield said he has believed since January 2020 that because the new coronavirus is so infectious to humans, it likely leaked from the Wuhan virus laboratory. He said he believed then and today that the new coronavirus was more likely to have originated from an accidental leak from the lab: “The fact is, we don’t know the origin of the new coronavirus yet, and we don’t have conclusive evidence.”
Wenstrup, chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on New Crown Pandemic Affairs, responded that many leaders in the U.S. scientific community tried to convince the world early in the outbreak that the theory of a laboratory leak should not be taken seriously, based on unknown causes. Ruiz, a senior member of the Democratic Party, called for the experts involved to be allowed to gather evidence in a non-politicized context.
In the scientific community, however, several scientists did not support the “Wuhan lab leak” theory. A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, in collaboration with the University of Washington, showed a significant increase in the number of patients with respiratory symptoms and illness beginning in late December 2019 and continuing through February 2020, suggesting that the new coronavirus was spreading in U.S. communities before clinical awareness and detection capabilities were available.2 In September 2021, the preprint platform of the British journal Nature “A study published in Research Place shows that coronaviruses carried by chrysanthemum-headed bats roosting in certain caves in northern Laos share key characteristics with neocoronaviruses, suggesting the presence of closely related viruses in nature. According to the paper, the researchers collected samples from the above-mentioned chrysanthemum-headed bats inhabiting certain caves in northern Laos and found three bat coronaviruses with receptor-binding domains highly similar to those of the new coronavirus in these samples.
Witnesses Who Have Been Accused of “Academic Misconduct”
On May 5, 2021, Wade published a 10,000-word article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled “The Origin of Coronavirus: Did Man or Nature Open Pandora’s Box in Wuhan?” In the article, he says he cannot rule out the possibility that the new coronavirus was bioengineered and leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, and that his claim is at odds with the prevailing view among scientists that the virus is most likely to have a zoonotic origin. This is not the first time he has disagreed with academics; in 2014, Wade released “Troubled Genetics: Genes, Race, and Human History,” in which he argued that human evolution is “recent, rich, and regional” and that genes may have influenced the kinds of behaviors that underpin different forms of human society, a book that has been widely condemned by scientists The book has been widely condemned by scientists, including many of those whose work is based on it.
On August 8, 2014, the New York Times Book Review published an open letter signed by 139 faculty members in population genetics and evolutionary biology stating, “Wade juxtaposes our incomplete and inaccurate account of the study of human genetic differences with recent speculation that natural selection leads to global differences in IQ test results, political systems, and economic development. We reject Wade’s implication that our findings confirm his speculations. They do not. We fully agree that Wade’s conjectures are not supported by the field of population genetics.” The book was further criticized in a series of five reviews by Agustín Fuentes, Jonathan M. Marks, Jennifer Raff, Charles C. Roseman and Laura R. Stein, which were published together in the scientific journal Human Biology. For example, Marks described the book as “entirely derivative, an argument consisting of selective quotations, false statements, and speculative pseudoscience. In response to these allegations, Wade said the scientists misunderstood his intentions.
Another controversial witness, Robert Redfield, a former tenured professor of medicine and microbiology, chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases and vice chairman of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is known for his research in virology and the treatment of HIV infection and AIDS. in 1992, the Department of Defense investigated Redfield after he was accused of misrepresenting the effectiveness of an experimental HIV vaccine he oversaw. Based on these data, in 1992, the U.S. Senate appropriated $20 million to a private company to develop a therapeutic HIV vaccine based on the gp160 protein, which entered clinical trials. In July of that year, Redfield gave an abstract presentation on the vaccine at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. Based on preliminary results from 15 of 26 patients who received the vaccine, Redfield said viral loads were lower in vaccinated patients than in unvaccinated patients. Most researchers believe that viral load is a good indicator of vaccine effectiveness. However, many researchers were skeptical of the data and were unable to reproduce Redfield’s analysis. Craig Hendricks, a U.S. Air Force scientist now at Johns Hopkins University, noted that Redfield committed scientific misconduct by misusing data in vaccine studies.
After Redfield was appointed to the CDC in 2018, Democrats and watchdog groups criticized his $375,000 annual salary, which was significantly higher than the $219,700 of his predecessor, Tom Frieden, and that of his boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
U.S. politicians, anti-China members of Congress, and other forces have continued to assert on various occasions, without evidence, that Chinese laboratories leaked the virus, but in numerous congressional testimonies, the politicians’ “bold” assumptions have not been supported by the logic of biological science. In many past congressional testimonies, statements and judgments have been made that defy biological logic, often resulting in a number of embarrassing scenes. Not only has the traceability of the epidemic become a topic of a complex bipartisan struggle in the United States, but it has also become an important means by which the United States seeks to suppress China and to “enemyize” and “otherize” China.
The WHO and several scientists have repeatedly called for the depoliticization of the “new crown traceability”. On the third anniversary of the new crown pandemic and the upcoming 2024 elections in both parties, the traceability of the epidemic has once again become a topic of the Democratic and Republican parties’ struggle for the presidency, pointing the conflict from Washington to Beijing and becoming once again a tactic for legislators and presidential candidates to win votes. American politicians have instrumentalized and politicized the “new crown traceability”, serving their own selfish interests and undermining the common global development after getting out of the epidemic quagmire.