Tom Cotton calls on China to produce evidence that disputes Wuhan lab as source of COVID-19

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All evidence in investigations of the origin of the deadly coronavirus pandemic points to two laboratories in Wuhan, China, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Tuesday.

In an appearance on "America's Newsroom" with host Sandra Smith, Cotton said that, contrary to another theory, no evidence pointed to the virus originating in a seafood market in Wuhan.

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"Now, all the evidence pointing to those labs -- the fact that they use bats, that they research coronaviruses, that they have a history of bad safety practices, that the original person infected with the virus had no contact with the [seafood] market -- all of that is circumstantial evidence to be sure," he remarked.

"But, in intelligence questions, we rarely get direct or conclusive evidence," noted Cotton. "So, I agree that all of the evidence -- albeit circumstantial -- points directly at those labs."

"And, if the Chinese Communist Party has evidence to the contrary, they need to bring it forward to the world," he asserted.

"Now, whether the virus was genetically modified or engineered is a highly technical scientific question. And, the weight of scientific opinion right now, [says] that,'No, this was a naturally occurring virus.' But, a naturally occurring virus can, of course, be present in a laboratory where it's being studied," Cotton continued. "That is a different question from saying that laboratory may have had bad safety practices and there could have been an accidental breach which was the original source of what has become this terrible pandemic."

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported it was “assured” that the novel coronavirus is “natural in origin."

However, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci -- a member of the White House's COVID-19 task force -- has disputed the claim that the virus could have been spread from one of the two labs in question.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci looks on as US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on March 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci looks on as US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on March 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” Fauci told National Geographic.

Cotton said Fauci's comments were not necessarily contradicting investigation intel.

"So again, Dr. Fauci was talking primarily about whether a virus could have been manipulated genetically or modified in some way in a laboratory," Cotton stated. "Again, the weight of scientific opinion studying this virus around the world suggests that that is not the case, but that evolution certainly could have happened in nature before any animal was taken into the laboratory or in the laboratory itself."

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"But, even setting aside those questions, Sandra, I think we also have to point to how the Communist Party reacted," he told Smith.

"Rather than tell the world upfront in December that there was a new virus, it was in Wuhan, and it was highly contagious -- which they obviously knew at the time -- they deliberately misled the world. They allowed international air travel to continue in December and January. Thereby turning what could have been a local public health emergency into a global pandemic the likes of which we haven't seen in a century."