Ernst presses China on whether COVID originated from Wuhan lab: 'The world deserves answers'
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"The Communist Party of China refuses to fully cooperate with efforts to learn more about the origins of the deadly coronavirus," Ernst said in a statement to Fox News Saturday. "The world deserves answers—and that includes determining whether it originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology."
Ernst’s comments are just the latest from Republicans on the Hill calling on the Biden administration to take charge in uncovering the true origin of the virus that has infected over 157 million people globally and killed nearly 3.3 million.
House Republicans this week penned a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to request he release "unclassified documents and declassify other documents" relating to classified research referenced in the department's Jan. 15, 2021 Fact Sheet.
The documents reportedly show collaboration between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese military in connection to "laboratory animal experiments."
The letter noted that the Wuhan lab "has been a major focus" for not only the U.S. government but the World Health Organization (WHO) in their research into the origins of the coronavirus.
Security personnel gather near the entrance of the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan in China's Hubei province on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (AP)
"Finding the source of the COVID outbreak is about preventing a recurrence," Ernst said Saturday. "Communist China needs to stop their cover-up and start cooperating with international efforts to get to the bottom of this."
Ernst has been critical of the WHO’s report following their month-long trip to Wuhan in January.
The Iowa Republican accused the WHO investigation of being "influenced" by the Chinese Communist Party and called for an independent study of the virus' origins.
The March report rejected any claims that the virus was leaked from a Wuhan lab and said it was "likely to very likely" the virus spread by zoonotic transmission, the transfer of infection from animals to humans.
The White House also criticized the report as a "partial, incomplete picture" of the origin of the virus.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called on the Chinese government to allow a team of international experts "unfettered access" to data and people on the ground in Wuhan.
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.