Blinken says can't provide lawmakers uncensored info on Covid research
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken underlines that Washington cannot simply hand over unredacted information regarding its research about Covid.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the State Department cannot provide lawmakers with unredacted versions of documents regarding his country's support for Covid-19 research in China.
US Senator Rand Paul pressured Blinken over his refusal to provide the requested information from the State Department on support for Covid-19 research in China after some US intelligence agencies claimed that a Chinese laboratory in the city of Wuhan was the origin of the pandemic as others claimed it was a market in the city.
Read next: How COVID Was Politicized in the West
"We cannot directly provide the unredacted cables," Blinken said during the hearing. "I believe that we can find a way to get you the information that you're looking for."
The Secretary of State said Paul's team was offered a briefing on the matter, but the latter responded by saying he was not interested in receiving the information through the State Department’s "spin" and interpretation.
Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Lead at the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme Maria Van Kerkhove said earlier in the month that the United States did not give the WHO access to reports or data that accuse a Chinese laboratory of causing Covid-19.
"We have made requests to senior mission officials here in Geneva of the US mission for information from the latest reports from the Department of Energy, as well as additional reports from other US agencies," Van Kerkhove said.
"We have also reached out to HHS [United States Department of Health and Human Services]... As of right now, we do not have access to those reports or to the data that was underlying in how those reports were generated," she added.
It is worth noting that the Covid pandemic caused a surge of deaths in the US between 2019 and 2020, ushering in the largest spike in mortality in 100 years.
Deaths in the US increased by 19% between the pre-Covid era and 2020. Deaths also remained high in 2021 as the threat of the pandemic continued, according to the US Census Bureau's estimates.
Mortality patterns have been predictable prior to the pandemic, following seasonal trends and peaking in the winter months. But over the past two years, the Coronavirus has disrupted these patterns, and it's unclear whether or if the pre-pandemic patterns will return.
Moreover, the US House of Representatives enacted legislation forcing the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to declassify data relating to the origination of the coronavirus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 was voted in favor of unanimously by the House 419-0.
The legislation obligates the DNI to declassify information on probable connections between the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China and the emergence of COVID-19 within 90 days.
Regardless, however, US President Joe Biden pointed out that he had not made a decision on whether to sign the bill that requires the US government to declassify all the information regarding the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said during a floor debate that American citizens deserve "answers to every aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic, including how this virus was created."
"The Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the country with almost every household feeling its effects," Turner expressed, highlighting that "the United States death toll from this virus has surpassed 1 million people."