Josh Hawley demands answers after US gov’t allegedly deleted COVID-19 data at China’s request

Jul 1, 2021 by

‘I am growing concerned that the NIH is not taking the CCP’s obstruction and its motives seriously, especially following evidence that NIH dollars may have found their way to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.’
www.hawley.senate.gov/sites/default/files/hawle...

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) is demanding answers after a recent report indicated that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) deleted gene sequences of COVID-19 cases from its database at the behest of Chinese researchers to the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party.

In a June 24 letter addressed to NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) head Dr. Anthony Fauci, Senator Hawley expressed “grave concern” about what he called “the latest allegations of a COVID-19 cover-up.”

“New public reporting suggests that Chinese researchers directed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to purge gene sequences of COVID-19 cases from a key NIH database,” Hawley wrote, referring to a recently confirmed report that COVID-19 genome sequencing data, which had been stored in a U.S. government database in March of last year, was quietly removed after Chinese researchers requested it be withdrawn in June 2020.

The revelation of the data deletions came from Dr. Jesse Bloom, Ph.D., a Seattle-based viral evolutionary geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who published a startling report last week in which he described how he discovered that COVID-19 genetic data had been deleted from the U.S. database and how he ultimately recovered it.

‘These newly reported actions raise serious questions about what other data Chinese-based researchers have sought to purge from the American scientific community.’ the letter reads. ‘The American people need to know the extent of the CCP’s influence at the NIH and the CCP’s role in obscuring the origins of a pandemic that has claimed over 600,000 American lives.’

Bloom said he came across the sequence data in a May 2020 research paper while he was researching genomic data from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. When he attempted to look up the sequences in the U.S. government’s Sequence Read Archive (SRA), his search yielded no results. Bloom then dug deeper, accessing cloud servers to locate and extract data from 50 samples, some of which contained enough information to generate partial genome sequences.

Bloom said most scientists were unaware of the sequences he recovered because the data had been removed from the database. “Nobody noticed they existed,” he said.

According to reporting by Nature, the data Bloom recovered indicate that the genome sequences from early samples of SARS-CoV-2 are more closely related to bats than to people infected with the virus who had been linked to the Huanan Seafood Market.

“This adds to a growing body of evidence,” the article remarks, citing Bloom and other scientists, “that the first human cases of COVID-19 were not associated with the Huanan Seafood Market.”

U.S. officials have confirmed that the deleted genome data, which was deposited in the database at the request of Chinese researchers, was then removed (also at their request) several months later.

The NIH has said that “[s]ubmitting investigators hold the rights to their data and can request withdrawal of the data,” going on to claim that the “NIH can’t speculate on motive beyond the investigator’s stated intentions.”

In his letter to Collins and Fauci, Senator Hawley contended that the “deleted information could be critical for understanding how the virus spread and where it came from,” adding that the “deletions are alarming and merit a full congressional and law enforcement investigation.”

“The NIH has since stated that ‘submitting investigators hold the rights to their data,’” Hawley continues, “But that’s not what the NIH says in its public materials.”

“It says removal of information is disfavored and is only permitted pursuant to specific protocols that do not appear to have been followed here. But moreover, why the NIH would agree to remove key data about COVID-19 in the midst of the most severe public health crisis in a century is unfathomable. It appears the removal of this data from this database was not done for scientific purposes. Rather, it could have been done to obscure the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) role in the origins of COVID-19, especially given the researchers’ apparent affiliation with Wuhan University—an institution controlled by the CCP,” he said.

Hawley added that he is “growing concerned that the NIH is not taking the CCP’s obstruction and its motives seriously, especially following evidence that NIH dollars may have found their way to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

“These newly reported actions raise serious questions about what other data Chinese-based researchers have sought to purge from the American scientific community,” the letter reads. “The American people need to know the extent of the CCP’s influence at the NIH and the CCP’s role in obscuring the origins of a pandemic that has claimed over 600,000 American lives.”

Hawley requested a “full accounting of COVID-19 sequences” purged by the NIH, and an answer as to how the purging of the data has impacted the United States’ ability to develop vaccines and therapeutics and determine the origins of COVID-19.

Finally, Hawley asked, “[w]hat other scientific data… have Chinese researchers affiliated with the CCP requested be removed from any NIH database?”

The senator concluded by noting that he is sending a copy of the letter to law enforcement and intelligence communities for their appropriate action.

Hawley has demanded an answer by July 1.


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