WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — A special panel formed by House Republicans investigating the origins of the coronavirus is expected to meet again to tackle the question: Where did the virus that’s killed nearly 7 million people worldwide come from?
Tuesday’s House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic hearing topic is titled ‘Investigating the Origins of COVID-19, Part 2: China and the Available Intelligence.’
Witnesses will include former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Feith.
The subcommittee held its first hearing on March 8. All of this comes on the heels of an assessment that COVID-19 “mostly likely” emerged from a lab leak rather than natural human exposure.
There are two theories on where the virus originated: a leak from a laboratory in China, which the Chinese government disputes, or human beings were exposed to an infected animal.
Dr. Robert Redfield, who served as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under former President Donald Trump, testified last month
“I came to believe, and I still believe today, that it indicates that COVID-19 more likely was the result of an accidental lab leak than a result of a natural spillover event,” Redfield said during last month’s hearing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has maintained that he has an open mind about the origins of COVID-19, but pointed to “accumulating evidence” that it was transmitted naturally as opposed to through an accidental lab leak.
His comments came on the heels of a new study published earlier this month that shows large amounts of the virus were mixed in with genetic material from raccoon dogs at an outdoor wet market in Wuhan.
The research focused on swabs taken in Wuhan in the early days of the pandemic. Chinese researchers confirmed DNA from raccoon dogs and other animals was found in COVID-19 samples, especially from one corner of the wet market where exotic wildlife was sold.
A lab leak is now the lead theory at the FBI, with Director Christopher Wray saying recently, “The FBI has assessed, for quite some time now, that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.”
The U.S. intelligence community remains divided on a definite origin, partly because China has not been forthcoming with information about the outbreak and a wet market in Wuhan where it might have first spread.