On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci clashed after Paul accused Fauci of lying about gain-of-function research funding during a Capitol Hill hearing.
It was definitely a heated exchange.
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul said to the doctor and included doing so was a felony crime that could result in a five year sentence.
Paul charged that Fauci previously denied that any NIH funding had gone toward gain-of-function research, similar to what was reportedly done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Paul said, “Viruses that in nature only infect animals were manipulated in the Wuhan lab to gain the function of infecting humans.”
“This research fits the definition of the research the NIH said was subject to the pause in 2014 to 2017, a pause in funding on gain of function,” Paul continued. “But the NIH failed to recognize this, defines it away, and it never came under any scrutiny.”
Paul then said, sternly, “Dr. Fauci, knowing it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish retract your statement?”
“Sen. Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,” Fauci replied.
Paul shot back, “You take an animal virus and you increase transmissibility to human, you’re saying that is not gain of function.”
Fauci wasn’t having it. “Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are taking about, quite frankly and I want to say that officially,” Fauci said. “You do not know what you are talking about.”
But Paul, who is also a doctor, wasn’t having it either. He argued that it did meet the definition written by the NIH.
“It is not,” Fauci replied.
Paul responded, “It is 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.”
Sen. Paul then quoted Rutgers molecular biologist, Dr. Richard Ebright, who said, “The Wuhan lab used NIH funding to construct novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses able to infect human cells and laboratory animals. …This is high-risk research that creates new potential pandemic pathogens (i.e., potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in a lab, not in nature).”
“This research matches — indeed epitomizes — the definition of ‘gain of function research of concern’ for which federal funding was ‘paused’ in 2014-2017.”
“I totally resent the lie that you are now propagating, Senator,” Fauci replied.
“They’re animal viruses that became more transmissible in humans and you funded it,” Paul finished, as his time expired.
Fauci replied, “And you are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual — I totally resent that.”
CNBC reports, “The NIH did fund a nonprofit called the EcoHealth Alliance that assisted in research into bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab, but Fauci maintains that qualified experts have examined the study “up and down” and concluded that it does not constitute gain of function research.”
“It could have been,” Paul said.
“If anybody’s lying here, Senator, it is you,” Fauci finished.
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