Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, clashed once again on Tuesday in televised testimony before a Senate committee about the nation’s response to Covid-19. As in the past, the argument centered on any role the National Institutes of Health — which funds the institute Fauci runs — played in funding so-called “gain of function” research at the lab in Wuhan, China where some have speculated the virus may have been engineered.
Senator Paul began his allotted time referencing a Chinese research paper that he said is proof the NIH was funding such research. That paper was published in 2017 and analyzes the SARS virus that emerged in 2003. Covid-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2, was first detected in December 2019, according to the World Health Organization.
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Paul then fired his opening salvo: “Dr. Fauci, as you are aware it is a crime to lie to Congress,” before asking Fauci if he would like t retract his previous denial that the NIH had funded such research.
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before congress and I do not retract that statement,” replied Fauci. “This paper that you’re referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function.”
It’s an accusation Paul, who is an ophthalmologist, has made before, and one that Fauci, who is an infectious disease specialist, has denied.
Paul then interrupted Fauci asking, “You take an animal virus and you increase its transmissibility to humans and you say that’s not gain of function?”
“That is correct,” answered Fauci, before unloading on Paul. “Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially.”
“How can you say that’s not gain-of-function?” asked Paul, cutting Fauci off. “It’s a dance and you’re dancing around this because you’re trying to obscure responsibility for four million people dying around the world from a pandemic.”
“If the point that you are making is that the grant that was funded as a subaward…created SARS-COV-2, that’s where you are getting…” Fauci said, pointing at Paul before the senator cut him off again.
“We don’t know…but all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab and there will be responsibility for those that funded the lab, including yourself,” threatened Paul.
“I totally resent the lie you are now propagating, senator,” Fauci said, adding that it is “molecularly impossible” that research funded by NIH was responsible for SARS-CoV-2.
Paul then retreated a step, saying “nobody is saying” the viruses from the Wuhan lab caused the pandemic. He said that his contention was that the lab was still conducting gain-of-function research that was funded by NIH.
“You are implying,” replied Fauci as Paul tried to interrupt again, “that we are responsible for the deaths of individuals, and if anyone’s lying here, Senator, it is you!”
You can watch the entire exchange here or watch excerpts below.
“Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about.”
— Dr. Fauci after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) accuses him of lying to Congress about gain-of-function research in Wuhan lab. pic.twitter.com/aGhn3ua9r0
— The Recount (@therecount) July 20, 2021
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 20, 2021