Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) pledged to supporters over the weekend that he will lead a vigorous investigation into the origins of COVID-19 if his party retakes control of Congress, which would position him to take the chairmanship of a key Senate health committee.
The libertarian senator has sought to investigate the theory that Chinese researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology genetically engineered the coronavirus and allowed it to leak from the lab, after which it spread like wildfire across the globe.
“When we take over in November, I will be chairman of a committee, and I will have subpoena power,” Paul said at a campaign rally in Kentucky. “And we will get to the bottom of where this virus came from.”
Paul has clashed with Biden administration officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci numerous times over what he argues is a coordinated attempt to cover up the consequences of research in China into highly contagious pathogens, known as gain-of-function research. Paul has further accused Fauci, who heads the office at the National Institutes of Health that deals with infectious diseases, of helping fund the gain-of-function research in China.
“If you look at the evidence, overwhelmingly, not 100%, but overwhelmingly, the evidence points to this virus being a leak from a lab,” Paul said on Saturday.
Fauci, meanwhile, has denied that the federal government funded gain-of-function research and maintains that the evidence points to zoonotic transmission, or viral spread from species to species, as the genesis of the pandemic.
The Chinese government has stymied international attempts by outside groups such as the World Health Organization to investigate the root cause of the pandemic, keeping them from inspecting labs and markets in the city of Wuhan.
If the Republicans take back control of Congress, which is looking increasingly likely, Paul would be made head of the influential Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.