Three GOP leaders are scrutinizing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over its decision to delete from its database information on COVID patients in Wuhan, China. This information would have been crucial in identifying the true origins of the coronavirus that caused a global pandemic.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported how Chinese researchers asked the U.S. NIH to "delete gene sequences of early COVID-19 cases from a key scientific database," which then raised concerns that the deleted data was key in studying COVID's origins and cure.
The NIH admitted to deleting the sequences after they received a request of removal from a Chinese researcher who submitted the data three months prior. The deleted data is believed to be "sequences from virus samples collected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in January and February of 2020 from patients hospitalized with or suspected of having COVID."
Now, GOP senators are clamoring for an inquest into why NIH would handle such data so irresponsibly, especially given the political turmoil surrounding the investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where it is believed that an accident had enabled COVID to escape and spread to humans. Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Roger Marshall of Kansas have come together to submit a letter to NIH Director Francis Collins requesting details on the Chinese scientist who requested to delete the data, CBN News reported.
"The efforts by Chinese researchers to delete the data demands additional explanation. As you are aware, the Chinese government has failed, from the beginning, to be open and transparent with the world with respect to its role in the pandemic," the letter from the GOP senators read, as reported by Yahoo! News. "The American people deserve to know what their government knows about the origins of this global illness."
The GOP senators' move to demand answers from the NIH is also fueled by the suspicion of several Republican leaders that China has been purposefully harboring important information on the real origins of COVID as to prevent others from finding it out. This week, former State Secretary Mike Pompeo reiterated the Wuhan lab leak theory.
"We can't be certain that it came from the laboratory, only the Chinese can tell us if that's where it came from," Pompeo said during a conversation with The National Desk's Jan Jeffcoat, as reported by NBC Montana. "But every stick of evidence that we've seen today suggests this is where it came from."
Pompeo added, "Everything suggests the Chinese Communist Party doesn't want us to know where this came from."
While the NIH has not responded to the GOP senators' letter, it has released a new antibody testing study through its All of Us Research Program, which found evidence of COVID infections in up to five states earlier than it had been reported in the U.S. The study looked at 24,000 stored blood samples from 50 states between January 2 and March 28, 2020 and found antibodies against COVID outside New York and Seattle, two places which first became COVID hotspots and is believed to be the "key points of entry" of COVID in the country. The study however revealed that COVID was also present in Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.