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Senate committee to investigate origin of, response to coronavirus pandemic

Senate committee to investigate origin of, response to coronavirus pandemic
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Monday that his panel plans to investigate the coronavirus epidemic's origins as well as the responses from the U.S. government and World Health Organization (WHO).

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting GOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday MORE (R-Wis.) told Politico on Monday that the investigation would cover all aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, including criticism of the WHO and unfounded allegations of the virus's supposed origin in a Chinese lab.

"Where did this all start from? Was this transferred animal to human? Was this from a lab in China? Might have been the best of intentions trying to come up with the different cures, with the different therapies for the coronavirus in general," Johnson told the news outlet . "We need to know what role WHO might have had in trying to cover this thing up."

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The panel, Johnson added, is "going to conduct oversight on this thing in its entirety." Other aspects of the probe reportedly include questions as to why the U.S. national stockpile wasn't "better prepared" for the shortages of masks, ventilators and other equipment sought by hospitals around the country in recent weeks.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), a member of the committee, will reportedly head up the investigation into China and the virus's origins, according to the two senators. Scott told the news outlet that “we can't trust communist China, we've learned we can't trust the WHO because they lie to us."

"Let's create a new organization if this is important to us because it clearly didn't work," he added of the WHO's efforts to stop the virus's spread.

Republicans have accused the WHO of uncritically accepting official counts of the virus's confirmed cases and deaths from Chinese officials, which some experts have said are likely lower than the country's actual numbers.

Last week President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE joined that criticism, while threatening to look into defunding the global health organization.

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"The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?" he tweeted.