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WASHINGTON, July 1, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A panel of four expert witnesses told Republican lawmakers on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that it is “highly likely” SARS-CoV-2 was man-made, The Daily Caller reported.

Tuesday’s three-hour hearing addressed a variety of theories about the origins of the coronavirus, including the allegation that it escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China and that it was deliberately created by researchers as a biological weapon.

When asked by the committee whether they believed the virus originated in a lab, all four qualified experts answered in the affirmative.

Dr. David Asher, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who specializes in U.S. foreign policy in Asia, said the researchers at the WIV were “quite publicly” using “revolutionary technology” in a “program related to synthetic biology and gain-of-function,” which could result in a “weapons-like release” if their viral research were to be leaked and not promptly contained.

“Whether they deliberately did it, I have very little sense they did,” Asher said. “But were they deliberately working on developing the capability to use advanced pathogen genetic capabilities for war in a way that no one has seen ever employed? Yeah they were. Of course they are.”

Three other experts gave their testimonies alongside Asher. Dr. Brett Giroir, a former four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps also testified, along with Dr. Richard Muller, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California Berkeley, and Dr. Steven Quay, founder of Atossa Therapeutics.

According to the Daily Caller, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci and National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Dr. Francis Collins were invited to the hearing but declined to appear.

Quay described his own reasons for believing the coronavirus was man made, explaining that when an animal virus first jumps to humans “it can’t do very well,” and takes a year to 18 months to “[learn] how to infect humans.”

But with the coronavirus, Quay said, “it was human-to-human from the get-go.”

“That simply indicated gain-of-function,” Muller put in. “The fact that it was human from the get-go implies gain-of-function. There’s no way that we know that could happen [naturally].”

The committee also discussed gain-of-function research and the lack of scientific oversight.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked Giroir for details about the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight (P3CO) board in relation to the coronavirus research conducted at the Wuhan lab.

According to The Daily Caller, the P3CO board was formed in 2017 under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to decide whether grants involving gain-of-function research, which enhances “dangerous pathogens like coronaviruses,” are subject to “proper safeguards” and “are worth the risks.”

However, the NIH-funded gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan was never presented for review by the P3CO board.

“My understanding is it’s an oversight board that’s there to decide if you’re going to fund any gain-of-function research,” Jordan said to Giroir. “Is that right?”

“That’s what the intent is,” Giroir said, adding “it’s unbelievable to me that coronavirus work wouldn’t even get into the process.”

An NIH spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation that New York-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which collaborated with the Wuhan lab to study how coronaviruses jump from bats to humans, received its grant from the NIH without its research plans undergoing review by the P3CO board.

“If you look at the abstract from the latest grant that was done to EcoHealth, it talks about using protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments,” Giroir said. “This is all gain-of-function. How this could not get into the P3 process is unbelievable.”

Giroir added that task force members who were interested in the possibility that the coronavirus had been leaked from the Wuhan lab were “under tremendous pressure from their scientific colleagues to not even show up with [President Trump] on stage.”

“There was such bias against the president,” Giroir said, “that even thinking that you were helping the president, you were excommunicated from the scientific community.”

Giroir’s testimony aligns with a recent statement made by Alina Chan, a genetic engineering specialist and postdoctoral associate at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University.

“At the time, it was scarier to be associated with Trump,” Chan said, “so people didn’t want to publicly call for an investigation into lab origins.”