Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on the origins of COVID-19 in a hearing Wednesday.
Kennedy first questioned Walensky on the origins of COVID-19, to which she replied that there is a possibility it could have originated in a lab but that the majority of known coronaviruses stem from animals. “Certainly, the possibilities that most coronaviruses that we know of generally come from an animal origin. Certainly, a lab-based origin is one possibility,” Walensky said.
The Louisiana senator then asked Walensky to give her own opinion on COVID-19’s origins. She answered that the origins of the virus had been studied by the World Health Organization (WHO) and that she has not seen enough data to give an opinion.
Where does the CDC think the #coronavirus came from?
CDC director: “Certainly, a lab-based origin is one possibility.”
I’d like to know more, wouldn’t you? pic.twitter.com/kiTN6xkz12
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) May 19, 2021
Kennedy also asked Walensky if the U.S. is funding gain of function research that allows labs to make viruses contagious for the purpose of studying them. Walensky said the U.S. is not funding the research to her knowledge and that Dr. Anthony Fauci is the person to ask regarding the topic.
“Dr. Fauci seems confused, with all due respect. I’m asking you to give us that information,” Kennedy said. “Where throughout the world including but not limited to the United States of America are we doing research on these viruses to make them contagious in order to study them?”
Walensky said she can try to retrieve that information but it is difficult given that they have limited access to labs.
“We can certainly have our staff look into this,” she said. “I don’t know that we have the access of labs across world, just the ones that are funded here in the United States.
Kennedy responded that her position in the CDC gives her the power to attain information regarding gain of function research across the world. (RELATED: Ex-CDC Director Says He Believes Coronavirus Escaped From A Chinese Lab)
“You’re head of the CDC, I bet you get your phone calls returned. Would you get us that information?” Kennedy asked, to which Walensky replied that she’ll provide information to Congress to the best of her ability.
Dr. Peter Daszak, a doctor working alongside the WHO, said it is easy to alter coronaviruses and that there is a possibility a lab altered the virus that leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported. The WHO said in January that it was too early to conclude the origins of the virus.
In March, Former CDC director Robert Redfield told CNN that he does not believe the virus spread from a bat to a human, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.