Sen. Marshall Calls For Halt of Gain-of-Function Studies, Funding Chinese Research


Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) speaks on border security and Title 42 during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on May 11, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

It has been four years since patients sickened with unexplained pneumonia started appearing at hospitals in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. But U.S. policymakers are still investigating how COVID-19 emerged in the country.

To keep it from happening again, the United States needs to suspend gain-of-function research and stop federal dollars from flowing into studies in China, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kans.) says.

“I think number one is we have to have a moratorium on gain of function research. I don’t see the benefits outweigh the risks at this point in time,” Mr. Marshall said in a Thursday interview with NTD’s Capital Report.

“What Americans don’t understand is the scientific community in China works hand in hand with the Chinese military and with the [Chinese Communist Party],” Mr. Marshall said.

The communist regime could use gain-of-function research, whereby scientists study ways to enhance the transmissibility of a virus or pathogen, against the United States.

“Maybe they’ll use it to attack our food sources; maybe they’ll use it to attack our soldiers. I don’t know. But this is way more scary than a nuclear bomb in so many ways,” Mr. Marshall said.

“So we need to stop this type of research until we can get our arms around it and control it, but certainly not continue to fund research in China, where they hide and obfuscate from us any information that may be critical, that may be life-threatening to Americans.”

New Evidence

A congressional committee document made public earlier this week showed that a China-based virologist mapped out the sequence of COVID-19 at least two weeks before China’s communist regime released the virus’s genome sequence.

The researcher, Ren Lili, uploaded COVID-19 sequencing data to a U.S. government genetic database on Dec. 28, 2019, according to documents obtained by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

At the time, Chinese authorities were still calling the disease an unknown pneumonia and ordered health workers not to spread any information around it with threat of penalty. It wasn’t until Jan. 12—more than two weeks later—that Beijing shared genetic makeup with the World Health Organization. It took two more days before the regime acknowledged the disease could spread from human to human.

That two weeks, according to Mr. Marshall, could have been pivotal for the world to understand and inoculate against the viral pneumonia which was later named COVID-19.

“We could have started on that vaccination process two weeks earlier, at a minimum,” Mr. Marshall said. “But the fact that they hid what was going on there, that they continue to say over and over again, that this was not transmitted person to person, it kept us from responding in the fashion we could have.”

The Chinese virologist didn’t get her work published. Instead, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) GenBank removed Ms. Ren’s submission on Jan. 16, 2020, as she didn’t respond to a request to update her data, which the department characterized as “incomplete” and “lacked the necessary information required for publication,” according to the document.

The newly released information also drew attention to the federal dollars that flowed to virus research in China.

The Republican senator noted that Ms. Ren, who works at the state-run Institute of Pathogen Biology in Beijing, is a recipient of U.S. federal grants through EcoHealth Alliance. This New York-based nonprofit research group has come under scrutiny for its role in funneling taxpayer money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a Chinese lab at the center of investigations about COVID-19 origin.

COVID Origins

Mr. Marshall, who has been leading a Senate investigation into how the virus emerged, said a growing amount of evidence supports the theory that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab.

“There is a huge body of evidence out there, if I could get in front of the jury, that they would find the Chinese Communist Party guilty of leaking this virus from a laboratory out of Wuhan, China,” Mr. Marshall said.

Security personnel keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the visit by the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of COVID-19, in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Thomas Peter/JP)

His comments came after Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH until late 2021, said in recent closed-door congressional testimony that the theory that COVID-19 could have come out of a lab in Wuhan “is not a conspiracy theory.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also made similar claims when questioned days earlier by the same House panel investigating the COVID pandemic.

“A huge body of evidence says it came from a laboratory. They still haven’t found an animal source from it,” he added.

Additionally, Mr. Marshall suggested the Chinese regime possibly destroyed evidence of the COVID-19 origins.

“They’ve taken down all the DNA sequences from our laboratory banks, as well as their own laboratory banks.”

“They could easily disprove our theory if they would just go into their own lab bank and show us the cousin or the brother of this virus, but they’re not willing to do that.”

Eva Fu contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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