The dismissal of Donald Trump's allegations about the origins of COVID-19 by the scientific community and the media "played a prominent role" in the Republican's defeat during the 2020 presidential election, claims senior US Senator Lindsey Graham.
Graham, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, argued that had scientists and US officials taken seriously the claim about COVID-19 being leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the issue would have dominated the presidential race.
"Americans would have demanded a tougher line against the Chinese communist regime and would have been looking for a commander-in-chief to lead the charge. There is no doubt in my mind this would have benefitted President Trump much more than Joe Biden. However, early dismissal created a narrative that President Trump was out of touch and spreading right-wing conspiracy theories. It was a narrative that the elite media, who hated President Trump with a burning passion, was only too happy to help spread", Graham said.
His statement comes as a growing number of Republicans have pressed the Biden administration to investigate the origins of COVID-19 following recent media reports.
Escaped or Deliberately Leaked?
During his tenure, Trump blamed the emergence of the coronavirus on China. The 45th president as well as other senior US officials claimed the virus either escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology or was deliberately leaked, a claim Beijing has categorically denied.
Trump and his aides pointed to a 2018 memo written by US intelligence officials. The document neither proves nor disproves that the infectious disease was man-made. It only describes concerns raised by US Embassy officials in China about the lack of "adequately trained personnel" in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Trump's allegations were dismissed by the nation's leading expert on infectious disease, Dr Anthony Fauci as well as foreign scientists
Earlier this year, the World Health Organiation (WHO) released a report that was written with Chinese scientists, stating the chances of the virus being leaked from a laboratory were "extremely unlikely".
Yet, it appears that recent revelations have prompted a change in attitude towards the lab leak allegation.
At the end of May, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote, citing an undisclosed US intelligence report, that three employees from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick "with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illness" in November 2019, several weeks before Chinese authorities announced the first case of SARS-CoV-2. According to the outlet, the researchers were so ill that they sought hospital care.
CNN later reported that the Biden administration had shut down an investigation into whether COVID-19 could have been leaked from a Chinese laboratory, deeming the probe an ineffective use of resources.
However, at the end of the same month, the administration made a U-turn and announced a new investigation. Joe Biden said that the White House is looking into two scenarios:
- a) the outbreak began after a human came into contact with an infected animal;
- b) the outbreak began due to a laboratory accident.
The Democrat stressed that the intelligence community "does not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other".