The Congressional Coronavirus and Swine Flu Commissions: Issues in the View of the Trump and Biden Administrations on the First Pandemic
Problems such as better detection of new pathogen, an antiquated data collection apparatus, supply chain vulnerabilities, the spread of misinformation and alack of public trust are some of the topics that would be covered in any investigation of the Pandemic.
The crisis has been examined by members of Congress. On Friday, the House subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis released its final report, which was sharply critical of the Trump administration. Democrats on the Senate homeland security committee published a study on the early months of the swine flu. The Republicans on Senate health committee released an examination in October that suggested a lab leak was to blame for the first wave of the Pandemic.
But those inquiries are partisan. The bill to create the independent commission would establish a 12-member expert panel of “highly qualified citizens” appointed by congressional leaders from both parties. Like the Sept. 11 panel, it would have subpoena power and hold public hearings. It would investigate the origins of the outbreak and the response by the Trump and Biden administrations.
Planning a National Investigation for Covid-19: Analysis of a Public Study with the Covid Commission Planning Group, United Airlines, and the Chinese Embassy
Richard M. Burr said, “There’s no substitute for showing the vision that we showed in the early 2000s at creation of an architecture that fixes things that we got wrong then, that addresses things that we didn’t think of then.”
The Covid Commission Planning Group is a privately funded effort that has spent the better part of the past two years conducting research to lay the groundwork for a national inquiry. The group plans to publish its findings in a book this spring and has been interviewing lots of people. He declined to discuss details.
“So they’re looking at that, and it does require some agreements to be made with the airlines and so forth – and then how and when to do this – but it does look like a promising area of surveillance for the future,” she said. “Certainly, expanding the wastewater surveillance just is another data point that can be helpful, and it’s a less-intrusive way of doing disease surveillance.”
She said that the program could be expanded to test the collection of wastewater from multiple flights, as well as the blue water in one flight.
United Airlines told CNN that it has “been in touch with the CDC and are evaluating our participation” in the program. CNN has requested comment from the CDC and from other US carriers that service China.
According to a CNN report last month, there was limited information on the number of cases that had increased hospitalizations and deaths. There has been a decrease in testing across China. So that also makes it difficult to know what the true infection rate is.”
Starting Thursday, travelers from China must show a negative Covid-19 test result before flying to the US as Beijing’s rapid easing of Covid-19 restrictions leads to a surge in cases. The UK, Australia and Canada are implementing the same measures. The Chinese government warned that they would retaliate against the restrictions.
China has insisted that its Covid-19 data is transparent despite its strikingly low official figures, given the rapid spread of the virus and the relatively low vaccine booster rates among the elderly. But the US, the World Health Organization and other countries have urged China to share more data. In a call with his Chinese counterpart last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged China to upload more health data, a US official told CNN.
The Biden administration is not planning, as of now, to impose any punitive measures on China if it does not release more Covid-19 data, a second US official said.
In the midst of simmering hostility between the two superpowers, WHO member states requested in May 2020 that the agency put together a science-led effort to identify how the pandemic started. After the WHO group returned, engagement with China deteriorated quickly, despite the fact that China agreed to the mission.
Two sources said that the Department of Energy assessed in the intelligence report that it had “low confidence” the Covid-19 virus accidentally escaped from a lab in Wuhan.
The WHO sent instructions to member states about how to advance origins studies. In addition to the audits of labs in the area where the first case was identified, the proposed steps include assessing wild- animal markets in and around Wuhan and farms that supplied those markets.
But Chinese officials rejected the WHO’s plans, taking particular issue with the proposal to investigate lab breaches. The WHO proposal was never agreed by all member states, and so the second phase should not focus on pathways, as they were already deemed unlikely, said the spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry.
Van Kerkhove says that the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has continued to directly engage with Chinese government officials to encourage China to be more open and to share data. And WHO staff have reached out to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing to try to establish collaborations. “We really, really want to be able to work with our colleagues there,” says Van Kerkhove. “It’s really a deep frustration.”
Thea Fisher was part of the mission to Wuhan and said she hopes that progress will be made.
The High-Confidence Intelligence Report of the Department of Energy: Implications for the Laboratory Leak Theory in China, as Proposed to Congress
Intelligence agencies can make assessments with either low, medium or high confidence. A low confidence assessment generally means that the information obtained is not reliable enough or is too fragmented to make a more definitive analytic judgment or that there is not enough information available to draw a more robust conclusion.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on a new assessment from the Department of Energy. A senior US intelligence official told the Journal that the update to the intelligence assessment was conducted in light of new intelligence, further study of academic literature and in consultation with experts outside government.
A Department of Energy spokesperson told CNN in a statement: “The Department of Energy continues to support the thorough, careful, and objective work of our intelligence professionals in investigating the origins of COVID-19, as the President directed.”
The Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence is a part of the intelligence community, which is under the umbrella of the Director of National Intelligence.
The latest intel assessment was given to congress, as Republicans on Capitol Hill demanded more investigation into the lab leak theory, while accusing the Biden administration of playing down its possibility.
McCaul said he was pleased that the Department of Energy had reached the same conclusion that he had already come to.
The Texas Republican requested a full and thorough briefed from the administration on the report.
“It is critical the administration also begin to work immediately with our partners and allies around the world to both hold the (Chinese Communist Party) accountable and to put in place updated international regulations to ensure something like this cannot happen again,” McCaul said.
“We need to do extensive hearings. I hope our Democratic colleagues will support that. I know the Republicans in the House are certainly supportive of that,” the Senate Armed Services Committee member said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“What have we seen in the last three years?” Comer’s comment on the CNN video of the ‘Great Pandemic’
“Think about what just happened over the last three years, one of the biggest pandemics in a century. A lot of evidence that it’s coming from the Chinese,” Sullivan said.
The committee was reviewing the classified information provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence after receiving a letter requesting information, stated a spokesman for House Oversight Chairman James Comer.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the intelligence community remains divided on the matter, while noting that President Joe Biden has put resources into getting to the bottom of the origin question.