‘Preponderance of evidence’: Paul presses lab leak theory in hearing on Covid origins

Sen. Rand Paul accelerated his case Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic likely originated from a lab leak in Wuhan, China, castigating government scientists for continually concealing information favorable to that conclusion more than four years after the outbreak.

“Do we know for certain it came from the lab? No,” Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said during a Senate Homeland Security hearing on Capitol Hill. “But there’s a preponderance of evidence indicating that it may have come from the lab.”

Paul billed Tuesday’s event as the first bipartisan full committee hearing focused on one of the most crucial unanswered questions facing the globe: What caused the COVID-19 pandemic that took the lives of over 1.1 million Americans and 11,500 Kentuckians?

The panel heard from four scientists, two who are sympathetic to the lab leak theory and two who believe that animal-to-human transmission most likely sparked the outbreak.

There’s still no government consensus on which theory is true.

While the FBI and Energy Department have each sided with the lab leak premise, the National Intelligence Council thinks infected animals in a market are the most likely original source of the disease.

During his time questioning, Paul outlined how scientific publications originally cast sweeping doubts on the lab leak theory while privately expressing doubts about their level of confidence.

“We know that it went back and forth with Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and with editors who say, ‘We want the statements to be stronger. We want the conclusions to be stronger,’” Paul said. “That’s when we should’ve known we were off track. That these people were politicians and that they were pushing an idea because … This is about the business of science with China. This will disturb our relations with China if anybody questions this.”

Paul went on to contend that the idea COVID came from a fish market has been discredited by “virtually all scientists.”

“I’m really surprised it’s still being presented here,” Paul argued.

While the lab in Wuhan contained bat samples which have been used in coronavirus research, there’s no previous example of a major virus escaping from a lab.

Dr. Steven Quay, a former Stanford University School of Medicine professor, noted that of the 457 animals tested in the market, zero were found to be infected.

With SARS-1, the respiratory illness that took flight between 2002-2004, of the 92 animals tested, 100% were infected with that virus, according to Quay.

Fauci, the chief medical adviser to former President Donald Trump when the coronavirus began, said this week, “We don’t know what the origin of this virus is. I keep a completely open mind.”

In a contentious House hearing earlier this month, Fauci denied suppressing the lab leak theory but reiterated that he believes the most likely origin of the pandemic was animal-to-human transmission.