In response to the Chinese government’s refusal to allow a comprehensive investigation into the origins of COVID-19, a collection of Republican senators introduced the Coronavirus Origin Validation, Investigation and Determination (COVID) Act this week.
The bill seeks to authorize sanctions against China if it refused to allow what the senators deem a credible and comprehensive international investigation into the ongoing pandemic’s origins. It would target specific leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), affiliated institutions and labs, and suspend all federal academic research funding involving the CAS. Gain-of-function virus research cooperation – a topic of much debate and attention for Republicans since COVID-19 first emerged – would also be prohibited for any individual or institution based in the United States and which received federal funding.
“COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 800,000 people in the United States so far. Families who’ve lost loved ones to this devastating virus deserve answers – especially if the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for either unleashing this virus or covering it up,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said. “Our bill requires an investigation into COVID-19’s origins and holds China accountable by sanctioning those who’ve stonewalled independent investigations. We ought to make sure there are harsh consequences for any individual or organization that played a part in starting or perpetuating this pandemic.”
Grassley is one of the leads on the bill, alongside U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). The effort was co-sponsored by 14 other Republican senators. No Democrats joined to make the legislation bipartisan.
“For two years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has stonewalled all efforts to uncover the true origins of COVID-19,” Rubio said. “We know the virus originated in China, however, the CCP’s attempts to obfuscate the truth has led to countless deaths and needless suffering worldwide. It is clear that Beijing will only respond to concerted pressure from the United States and the international community. My bill will force the CCP to the table.”