January 8, 2021
The Honorable John Ratcliffe
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, D.C. 20511
Dear Director Ratcliffe:
House Intelligence Committee Republicans have conducted a long-standing investigation into the rise of China as our foremost national security threat. This will remain a singular priority for Committee Republicans in the new Congress.
As part of that probe, we are investigating the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Among the various theories of the pandemic’s origins, we’ve seen indicators that COVID-19 may have stemmed from dangerous research at laboratories in Wuhan, China, as evidenced by statements by Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger and recent media stories, including an in-depth article by Nicholson Baker.1
As shown on the COVID Timeline (attached), the Wuhan Institute of Virology has a history of mismanagement, poor safety practices, laboratory outbreaks, dangerous “gain of function” research, and other questionable activities. Chinese military writings have emphasized that biotechnology could become a new strategic component of Beijing’s “Revolution in Military Affairs,” while China’s recent actions call into question the regime’s commitment to peaceful research under the Biological Weapons Convention.
In light of the significance of these revelations, I am requesting that you provide our Committee with a classified Congressional Notification addressing Chinese virologic research, to include:
• An exact timeline of all research—and particularly “gain-of-function” studies—specific to coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and associated facilities;
• A counterintelligence assessment of all U.S. engagement with the Wuhan Institute of Virology on coronaviruses, including U.S. sponsored research and funding, scientific and diplomatic engagements, technology transfers, and affiliated or sponsored non- governmental organization (NGO) engagements;
1Nicholson Baker, “The Lab-Leak Hypothesis,” New York Magazine, January 4, 2021, available at
• An explanation of significant changes in Intelligence Community (IC) analysis, or the evolution of such analysis, related to the origin of SARS-COV-2, research activities in Wuhan labs, efforts by China to block international investigations of a possible lab leak, and actions taken by Chinese authorities that increased COVID-19 worldwide lethality and economic disruptions;
• An assessment of Chinese adherence to international agreements that require disclosure and cooperation in the event of a viral outbreak such as COVID-19.
I would appreciate your making this response a priority for the IC given the great variance in explanations for COVID-19 origins and Chinese behavior that we are receiving from government, scientific, and media sources.
“The Lab-Leak Hypothesis”
Cc: The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Mr. Christopher C. Miller, Acting Secretary of Defense