Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has called for the Biden administration to declassify government documents that show the Energy Department's assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic from an accidental lab leak in China. The Energy Department, which had previously been undecided on the origin of the pandemic, now joins the FBI in concluding that the coronavirus likely spread due to a mishap at a Chinese laboratory.
Energy Department Concludes COVID Originated from Lab Leak
The Energy Department's conclusion was noted in an update to a 2021 document by the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines's office and prompted Sen. Paul to call for greater transparency. The "lab leak theory," which suggests that the virus came from a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, was widely dismissed in the early stages of the pandemic.
Republican Lawmakers Call for Answers and Accountability
Paul was not the only Republican lawmaker to call for answers and accountability following the Energy Department's assessment. Congressional Republicans took to Twitter to demand apologies from those who dismissed the lab leak theory and for China to be held accountable.
Intelligence Agencies Assess COVID Origin
Beyond the FBI and Energy Department, the National Intelligence Council and four other agencies assess "low confidence" that the COVID-19 pandemic originated due to natural transmission from an infected animal. The CIA and another unnamed agency are undecided. The updated intelligence report showing the Energy Department's assessment maintains a consensus between all the intelligence agencies that the pandemic was not the result of a Chinese bioweapons program.
White House National Security Adviser on Intelligence Community Views
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan was asked about the intelligence community's varying views on the origin of COVID. Sullivan stated that President Biden had directed every element of the intelligence community to put effort and resources into getting to the bottom of the question. China has rejected claims that the virus could have originated from one of its labs.