National Security

‘Bowled Us Over’: Trump Official Says WIV Scientists’ Illnesses Are Most Important Lab Leak Evidence

Public/Screenshot/YouTube — User: GOP Oversight

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Feith testified Tuesday that the hospitalization of scientists is some of the most “probative” evidence that COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

Feith, who served in the Trump administration from 2020-21, co-authored a January 2021 memo alleging “several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019 … with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.” China claims it detected the first COVID-19 illness Dec. 8, 2019. However, a Senate report asserts Chinese scientists began developing a vaccine for COVID-19 around the time of the alleged autumn illnesses.

“The sick researchers are probably still today the most potentially probative part of this story that we are yet aware of,” Feith told Republican Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko during a House Oversight Subcommittee hearing.

Feith added that China’s failure to immediately investigate the alleged illnesses led to the loss of key evidence, including viral samples. However, he noted, “there is additional information that the U.S. government has that was not able to be specified at the time in the fact sheet that was released in January 2021.”

The U.S. intelligence community remains split on the origins of the virus. The FBI views a lab leak as COVID-19’s most likely origin with “moderate confidence,” while the Energy Department maintains “low confidence” in a lab leak. President Joe Biden signed legislation in March to declassify intelligence data surrounding COVID-19’s origin.

“It certainly bowled us over, frankly, to find in the autumn of 2020 that there was, after all, U.S. government information about a cluster of information in that lab, which is exactly what you would expect to happen if the origin of COVID came from a laboratory accident where a worker became ill, knowingly or not, and then took the virus into the community,” Feith continued.

Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe added that he and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intended the memo to “drive further declassification of intelligence to the American people and would drive congressional hearings.” (RELATED: ‘Dark, Dark Tunnel’: GOP Senators Report Second Lab Leak From Wuhan Institute Of Virology)

Republicans on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released a report Monday detailing the timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic. It pinpoints China’s vaccine development timeline as evidence that the virus emerged earlier than December 2020, and blames sloppy lab procedures and development for COVID-19’s escape.