Rand Paul on the Lab Leak ‘Deception’
“When I first heard about the debate [over the origins of COVID-19]…I assumed that the scientists were being honest with us,” says Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.). But his mind changed after reading a May 2021 article self-published on Medium by former New York Times science journalist Nicholas Wade. “As I began looking at this, the evidence, I think, was very, very strong that it came from a lab.“
Paul, who has a new book called Deception: The Great COVID Cover-Up, famously clashed with former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci in multiple Senate hearings over the question of whether his agency funded risky “gain-of-function” research in Wuhan, China, that Paul believes may have resulted in the creation of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Gain-of-function research involves enhancing the transmissibility or deadliness of viruses in human tissue. Fauci denied ever funding such research, telling Paul in July 2021, “You do not know what you’re talking about.”
But Paul tells Reason that the evidence that Fauci was lying has been piling up since then.
“It’s a felony to lie to Congress,” says Paul. “It’s punishable by up to five years in prison.“
He referred the matter to Attorney General Merrick Garland for criminal prosecution but says he’s received no reply.
“It is a huge cover-up [by] not just Anthony Fauci, but throughout the government. Eight different departments of government,” says Paul. “The [National Institutes of Health (NIH)] is more secretive at this point than the CIA.”
Paul has introduced multiple bills and amendments to cut public funding for gain-of-function research, to reform how the federal government funds scientific research, and to prohibit government officials from meeting with social media companies for the purpose of censoring legal speech.
“If Twitter wants to censor me or YouTube wants to take my speech down because I say masks don’t work, that is their prerogative,” says Paul. “But I do think that a consistent libertarian position is telling the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], [President Joe] Biden’s spokesmen…that they can’t be meeting on a weekly basis with either overt or implied threats of, ‘You need to do this or else.'”
Watch the full interview here and find a condensed transcript below.
Reason: A central question in your book is, “Did the U.S. government fund research in Wuhan that directly led to the COVID-19 pandemic?” How strong do you think the evidence for that is at this point?
Paul: Well, you know, when I first heard about the debate or the debate began in spring of 2020, I assumed that the scientists were being honest with us, that previously pandemics had started in animals and been transmitted to humans. The first SARS epidemic in 2002, 2003, came from civet cats. They found the cats. They found that the handlers had antibodies, and then a group of scientists in the spring of 2020 said this is what happened. I really didn’t pay much attention to it. But gradually, over about a year’s time, particularly reading Nicholas Wade’s article on Medium and other articles about this. Alina Chan’s work and her book, [Viral].
As I began looking at this, the evidence, I think, was very, very strong that it came from a lab. First of all, they checked 80,000 animals in China and found no animals that had the virus. They checked the blood of the people who handled the animals to see if they had antibodies to the virus. That didn’t occur either. They also looked at the genetic diversity of the original people that were getting ill. If a virus is coming from animals, it usually tries to take multiple leaps because it’s not very contagious in the beginning. And so you have multiple different genetic varieties from the get-go. This one seemed to have a single source and a single genetic variety, very homogenous. Most people think that that also adds strength to the argument that it came from the lab. So the evidence, really, as I began to look at it, looked as if it probably came from the lab.
Then we found evidence that Anthony Fauci and the other scientists weren’t being honest with us, that they were saying in private exactly what I was beginning to conclude, and that’s that the virus, the evidence looked like the virus was manipulated and that they were very concerned because they do gain-of-function research in that lab. But in public, they were still telling me, and Fauci responded angrily to me, that the NIH never funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan. It turns out in private, though, he was saying the opposite. He was acknowledging that it happened and that they had indeed funded it. So these things began to add up. But, in particular, the conversations [where] the scientists were saying one thing privately and saying another publicly is what really got me involved, intrigued in this issue, and really motivated me to bring it all together into this book.
How do you reflect on one of your famous exchanges with Fauci from July 2021, where you’re asking him to correct the record after he denied that the government ever funded gain-of-function research?
Well, it’s a great clip in the sense that his response is that his experts at the NIH have judged this up and down the chain, have judged this not to be gain-of-function research. Well, this is very intriguing. So what we have been requesting for two years is the discussion. If his scientists discussed and debated and concluded that this was not gain-of-function research, let us see the deliberations.
So one of two things are possible. Either he’s overstating the case and the deliberations never took place or the deliberations took place and aren’t
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