Fact Check: Was Wuhan Lab Leak Theory Confirmed by House Foreign Affairs Committee?

Republicans in the House Foreign Affairs Committee have released an addendum to a report in which they claim they have evidence proving COVID leaked from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

A World Health Organization (WHO) probe earlier this year found the theory that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to be "extremely unlikely," but the controversial idea has endured.

Additional efforts to examine the pandemic's origin are being undertaken by the Biden administration, as well as Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee members led by Rep. Michael McCaul.

The Claim

On Monday, Melissa Tate, a prominent conservative author and speaker with over 459,000 Twitter followers, tweeted: "Breaking: House Foreign Affairs Committee has concluded COVID leaked from Wuhan lab."

Tate's tweet had been liked nearly 4,500 times and retweeted over 1,700 times as of Tuesday morning EDT.

Breaking: House Foreign affairs committee has concluded Covid leaked from Wuhan lab.

We need to know why Dr. Fauci lied & pretended Covid was naturally occurring when he was involved in ‘gain of function’ aka weaponization of the Corona Virus at the Wuhan lab. Investigate!

— Melissa Tate (@TheRightMelissa) August 2, 2021

The Facts

Tate did not provide a source for her claim, but it is likely that she was referring to the addendum of the Origins of COVID-19 report released by Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee staff the day before on Sunday August 1.

The report itself was first published in September 2020 and was the result of a Committee Minority Staff investigation launched in March 2020.

In a statement accompanying the 84-page addendum published on Sunday, McCaul claimed that "all roads lead" to the conclusion the virus originated from the WIV.

McCaul said he and his team thought that the virus leaked some time in late August or early September 2019, months before the first cases were announced.

He said: "When they realized what happened, Chinese Communist Party officials and scientists at the WIV began frantically covering up the leak, including taking their virus database offline in the middle of the night and requesting more than $1 million for additional security.

"But their coverup was too late—the virus was already spreading throughout the megacity of Wuhan."

McCaul called on Congress to pass legislation sanctioning WIV scientists and Chinese government officials who took part in the alleged coverup.

The WIV has denied claims that it is responsible for leaking COVID before. In May, Shi Zhengli, the chief scientist for emerging disease at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said it was "really sad" to read a letter co-signed by several international scientists calling for further investigation into the lab leak theory.

Newsweek was unable to contact WIV to ask for comment. Newsweek was unable to contact the National Health Commission of China, and has contacted the Chinese embassy in the U.S. for comment.

Contrary to Tate's tweet, the addendum was not representative of the views of the entire House Foreign Affairs Committee, but of Republican staff led by McCaul.

Republicans currently make up a minority of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, while Democrats make up a majority.

Newsweek was unable to find any recent reports from the House Foreign Affairs Committee claiming the WIV was responsible for leaking the COVID virus.

The Ruling

Fact Check - False


The House Foreign Affairs Committee has not concluded that COVID first leaked from a Wuhan lab.

A Republican minority within the Committee holds this opinion, but this is not reflective of the entire Committee.


Wuhan Institute of Virology
Security guards seen standing outside of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, in February 2021. The lab has been the subject of COVID origin theories. Hector Retamal/AFP / Getty
False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false. Read more about our ratings.

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