An Investigation Into the Origins of COVID-19 Is Needed

June 18, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) delivered floor remarks regarding why it is extremely important to have an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.


To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.



You can read the transcript below or in the Congressional Record.


Mr. President, last week's conversations about our

own government's role in the COVID coverup reflected over a year of

refusal on the part of my Democratic colleagues to accept that the

novel coronavirus may not have spread via natural transmission from a

Chinese wildlife wet market.

As the theories of the pandemic's origins evolved, one remained,

until very recently, off limits. This is, of course, the lab leak

hypothesis, or the theory that the virus somehow escaped from a lab in

Wuhan, China.

Now, this theory didn't come out of nowhere. In early January 2020,

alarm bells were already ringing at the CDC, the State Department, and

in the scientific community over problems with the natural origin

theory of transmission.

Virologists and other public health officials studying the disease

were quickly coming to the conclusion that the way the virus was

spreading suggested that this theory was flawed. Officials also knew

that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducting controversial and

dangerous ``gain of function'' research with the help of repackaged

U.S. Government grants.

Yes, that is correct.

In April of last year, I joined many of my colleagues in publicly

demanding a thorough investigation into the lab leak theory. What

followed was nothing less than moral panic. Activists, journalists, and

even our own Democratic colleagues accused us of racism, xenophobia,

and science denial.

Major media organizations refused to report on the hypothesis, except

to decry it as a racist attack on Chinese scientists. Facebook banned

accounts that posted about it. YouTube deleted videos that dared

contradict the World Health Organization.

Rather than scaring us off, though, these attacks left us with

another question to answer: Why did the very idea of investigating the

Wuhan lab inspire such a bizarre panic? Or, perhaps, the better

question is, Why did NIAID Director Dr. Fauci and the rest of the

powers that be publicly insist that the idea of a lab leak was

completely preposterous?

Even NIH Director Francis Collins hadn't ruled it out. In a March

2020 interview with the Atlantic, he said that while natural

transmission was the likely culprit, ``the possibility that such a

naturally evolved virus might have also been under study at the Wuhan

Institute of Virology and reached residents of Wuhan--and ultimately

the rest of the world--as the result of a lab accident has never been

adequately excluded.''

We certainly have evidence to show that mistakes happen, even in a

professional lab. Who could forget that back in 2015, we saw reports

that personnel at a military facility in Utah accidentally shipped

active samples of anthrax to labs in nine States--yes, a 2015 lab


NIH has also had problems keeping track of things. According to a

memo prepared in 2016 by a minority staff of the House Energy and

Commerce Committee, a 2009 Department of Health and Human Services OIG

audit found an inventory discrepancy at the NIH caused in part by

mislabeled envelopes containing unregistered vials of plague and other

antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In 2012, NIH researchers found vials of anthrax spores in the wrong

place. What is worse, the scientists in that particular lab weren't

registered to possess them.

In 2014, an FDA researcher working at the NIH campus in Bethesda

discovered vials of live smallpox virus stuffed in a cardboard box in

an unsecured cold storage room.

Mistakes were clearly made. Lab accidents happen. It is also clear

that while a leak from the Wuhan lab could have happened due to human

error, this coverup we are now learning about certainly did not happen

by error.

We now have an emerging picture of what did happen behind the scenes

to create so much resistance to the lab leak theory.

On June 3 of this year, that bastion of rightwing insanity known as

Vanity Fair magazine published an investigative report exposing the

deranged political gamesmanship that prompted public health officials

to paint the lab leak theory as a conspiracy.

The report confirmed just about everything those officials wanted to

keep hidden--namely, that the lab leak hypothesis was suppressed at

multiple levels of government by officials looking to protect their own

interests and to distance themselves from President Donald Trump--so

much for following the science. They were following emotions.

The report confirmed conflicts of interest concerning grant awards

that supported gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of

Virology. The same people who knew that Chinese scientists were

performing these dangerous experiments on the taxpayer dime also knew

from verified intelligence reports that three Wuhan-based researchers

fell ill with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019, well before the

first reported outbreak. Still,

State Department officials warned investigators to abandon their

inquiries into the origins of COVID-19 because it would ``open a can of


The internal coverups bled into this year until, finally, 5 days

before President Biden took the oath of office, the State Department

put out a fact sheet on the Wuhan lab that confirmed the November

outbreak and revealed that scientists working there had collaborated

with the Chinese military on classified research. The Biden

administration has yet to walk any of this back.

We are also finally seeing some interest in the World Health

Organization's Beijing-controlled investigation into the Wuhan lab. On

March 1 of this year and again on May 24, I laid out my concerns to the

White House about the WHO's reliance on the Chinese Communist Party for

funding and support. I explained how this reliance drove their initial

support for Beijing's response to the outbreaks and ruined the

integrity of their investigation. The White House has yet to respond to

my concerns, but it is not going to be able to avoid responding because

the American people are demanding the answers.

I think it is important to state for the record that what we are

seeing in these news reports is not entirely new information. The

foundations of the lab leak hypothesis remain much the same as they

were a year ago. So why pop open that can of worms right now? Because

there is no way to sweep this thing back under the rug.

We have the sudden interest of the media. Imagine that. We also have

an entire body of published statements and investigative reporting from

inside China. Facebook and YouTube have reversed their content

policies, which means they couldn't stop people from sharing this

information unless they pulled the plug on the entire internet which,

obviously, isn't an option.

We also have the magic of FOIA on our side. We learned from Dr.

Fauci's published emails that he knew about the dangerous research

happening in China. He was aware. We know he allowed inquiries into the

Wuhan lab leak theory to go unanswered. We also know he worked with

Mark Zuckerberg to determine what COVID-related information flowed into

the public timeline and when that information went out.

Now, I stand by my criticism of Dr. Fauci. His dystopian comments

equating attacks on his job performance with attacks on science are

unacceptable, but I want to encourage everyone to not make this about

one person. We now have evidence that public officials were eating each

other alive over political disagreements and that these disagreements

derailed investigations into the origins of COVID-19.

This is more than just political failure; it is a moral inversion

that empowered one of the globe's most violent authoritarian

governments. The Chinese officials who hid the existence of the novel

coronavirus from international bodies are the very same Chinese

officials who gunned down freedom fighters in Hong Kong, who unleashed

political violence in Inner Mongolia and Tibet, and who continue to

commit ongoing genocide against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

It is time for Congress to get serious about cleaning up this mess. I

reiterate the same demands I made more than a year ago for a full and

unbiased inquiry into the lab leak hypothesis and a broader

investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, I joined Senator Cotton in reintroducing the Li Wenliang

Global Public Health Accountability Act. This legislation would

authorize the President to sanction foreign officials who suppress or

distort information about international public health crises, including

COVID-19. I encourage my colleagues to sign on to the bill.

Most importantly, I would implore my Democratic colleagues to engage

in a little introspection. The officials implicated in this coverup

swept science under the rug, orchestrated a relentless smear campaign,

throttled the flow of public information, and allowed the Chinese

Communist Party to exonerate itself at the expense of truth and


You don't have to defend this. Please, have the moral courage to make

the right choice, and join us in our demands for unbiased

investigations into the origin of the pandemic.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record

the referenced fact sheet and letters.