Claims that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, are growing after a recent U.S. intelligence report and news reports about lab workers showing COVID-like symptoms as far back as November of 2019.
Lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are demanding answers, and Paul tells CBN News he's becoming more and more convinced COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
"When I first heard about the controversy a year ago, the scientists said, 'Well, the virus doesn't look like one that man would devise' and I sort of took them at their word at that. But then I learned that the group of scientists saying this was actually self-interested," explained Paul.
Paul told CBN News he's growing concerned China might not be the only country responsible for creating COVID-19.
"NIH and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci have been funding Wuhan Research," claimed Paul. "They do it through an intermediary called EcoHealth, interesting when they investigated whether this virus came out of a lab or occurred naturally, they hired the head of EcoHealth to be in charge of the investigation. So the guy who was funding Wuhan lab was put in charge of investigating whether Wuhan lab leaked the virus."
Paul suggests COVID-19 spread by mistake during gain-of-function experiments intended to create and study viruses. Paul also said Chinese scientist Dr. Shi Zhengli, who works at the lab in Wuhan, admitted when the pandemic first started she didn't sleep at night worrying it came from their lab, although she ultimately concluded it didn't.
"I think Dr. Fauci downplays NIH and his organization NIAID in this research. But when you look at Dr. Shi's paper where she's juicing up and creating these super viruses, she thanks them in her paper," Paul noted. "Scientists from other places have said, 'Yes, it was gain-of-function. They were making a super virus.' And so then you have Dr. Fauci saying, 'Oh no, it didn't happen.' I think he's concerned that if it's discovered that it ultimately came from the Wuhan lab it will boomerang and come back to him."
In Senate hearings, Dr. Anthony Fauci denied Paul's claims.
"With all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect," Fauci told Paul. "The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan institute."
"I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done and I'm fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China, however, I will repeat again – the NIH and NIAAH categorically have not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology," continued Fauci.
Paul, however, thinks Fauci hasn't been honest with the American people.
"The nicest way to say this, I think he's obfuscating the truth," Paul said.
And he's not confident China will help the world get to the bottom of what happened.
"I think China will not be helpful, but we know a couple of things. They have tested thousands of animals in that wet market. The people who say this came out of nature say it didn't come from the lab, it came from this exotic wet market with these exotic animals. They've tested thousands of them. None of them have had the virus so far," Paul said.
Paul believes any Americans possibly responsible should face consequences.
"The people who supported funding for gain-of-function, the creation of super viruses, who supported funding for the Wuhan institute, should immediately be relieved of their responsibilities," said Paul. "Dr. Fauci should go."
Planned Parenthood Clinics Received $80 Million in Taxpayer Dollars
Another issue that Paul is investigating this week is why Planned Parenthood clinics received $80 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program.
"I don't want Planned Parenthood to have any money, I don't think they should be getting any taxpayer dollars," Paul told CBN News. "I think that ultimately that money does aid and abet the killing of unborn children."
Paul said legally the company with 16,000 employees should be ineligible for the loans meant to help small businesses with the pandemic.
"The Trump administration found them to be ineligible and told them they needed to send the money back," explained Paul. "A few of them actually did start to send the money back, but then we transformed into the Biden administration, and the Biden administration is not only not asking them to send the money back, they are actually getting more loans. We have now found that six Planned Parenthood affiliates have gotten a second loan since the first loan."
As the ranking member of the Senate's Small Business Committee, Paul is calling the Small Business Administrator to testify about why they are still receiving these loans in a hearing this week.
"I think they want to send the money to Planned Parenthood and they're going to keep doing it no matter what the actual law is," Paul said.
Paul, along with every other Republican senator on the Small Business Committee, sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the inspector general that oversees waste and fraud to demand they look into the matter.