Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have released a new report on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The report, which comes as Republicans prepare to investigate the pandemic with their new House majority, claims that the virus was likely tied to Chinese bioweapons research.
The report concedes that no "smoking gun" has yet surfaced and that the virus likely leaked from a laboratory accidentally.
But the authors chastised the intelligence community (IC) for not being transparent with Congress or the public about its probe, which "downplayed important information relating to the possible links between COVID-19 and China’s bioweapons research."
"Contrary to the implication of the [intelligence community’s] declassified report, based on our investigation involving a variety of public and non-public information, we conclude that there are indications that SARS-CoV-2 may have been tied to China’s biological weapons research program," the report said.
"The IC failed to adequately address this information in its classified Updated Assessment," the report added. "When we attempted to raise the issues with the IC, it failed to respond."
Despite the pandemic's enormous consequences, efforts to uncover its origin by mainstream journalists, scientists, and the federal government have been anemic at best.
The intelligence community's inconclusive report was the result of a 90-day effort by the Biden administration that faulted the Chinese for failing to provide transparency.
Biden vowed he would "not rest" until the truth came to light, but he has been quiet on the topic ever since.
House Republicans, who are poised to claim the majority in January, are planning to question Biden officials about the pandemic's origin, including Anthony Fauci, who is retiring this month after decades of government work.
The White House has been fiercely protective of Fauci, who has been accused of creating the COVID-19 virus by funding risky "gain-of-function" research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. A key researcher tied to the lab, Peter Daszak, gave Fauci a personal "thank you" for working to discredit the lab leak theory in the pandemic's early months.
During Fauci's final briefing at the White House last month, Biden's press secretary berated journalists who pressed Fauci about COVID's origins.
“Hold on one second. We have a process here. I’m not calling out on people that yell. And you’re being disrespectful to your colleagues, and you’re being disrespectful to our guests,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Fauci has long insisted the virus originated from a wet market near the Wuhan lab, but supporters of a natural origin theory have yet to explain how the virus theoretically jumped from wild bats to humans.