Marshall calls for new committee to investigate COVID-19 origins, spars with Fauci

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Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall is calling for a select committee to investigate the origin of COVID-19.

In a resolution introduced Tuesday, Marshall explicitly refers to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese lab that was the subject of countless theories after the virus emerged in the Wuhan region in late 2019.

Marshall on Tuesday also questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, about whether it was possible that COVID-19 arose from a lab accident in Wuhan.

“That possibility certainly exists and I am totally in favor of a full investigation of whether that could have happened,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Marshall’s resolution calls for creation of a 12-member bipartisan committee to investigate both the institute’s research and “actions taken by the World Health spread Chinese misinformation.”

The WHO released a report in late March that dismissed the lab leak theory as unlikely. But WHO officials also said the theory needs more investigation and some members of the WHO team raised concerns about the Chinese government’s refusal to share raw data on early cases.

“We must demand full access to all relative records, samples, and key personnel. If bad actors continue to obfuscate and prevent this investigation from happening, we can’t take no for an answer,” Marshall, an OB-GYN, said in a statement Tuesday.

“For these reasons, Congress must start our own parallel investigation now, which is why I have called for a bipartisan Select Committee.”

But Marshall’s resolution doesn’t just target China.

It also calls for the proposed committee to investigate funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Former President Trump’s administration pulled an NIH research grant last year from EcoHealth, a New York-based nonprofit that had a partnership with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Marshall sparred with Fauci on this point, asking him whether he and other officials at the National Institutes of Health, the federal government’s main arm to fund medical research, had a conflict of interest and whether any viral studies funded by NIH could be linked to COVID-19.

“Looking at the experiments that were done that we funded there would not be that possibility,” Fauci said.

Marshall pressed again on whether any research could be indirectly linked.

“I’m not sure exactly where that question is going,” Fauci replied. “I mean, you could do research on something as benign as looking at something that has nothing to do with it and it could indirectly someday somehow be involved, so if you want to trap me into saying, ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ I’m not going to play that game.”