Left: Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) questions NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, November 4, 2021. Right: NIAID Director Anthony Fauci responds to Senator Rand Paul as he testifies before a Senate hearing, November 4, 2021. (Fox Business/via YouTube)
In an animated exchange during a Senate hearing Thursday, Republican Senator Rand Paul grilled Dr. Fauci on his repeated claims that the NIH did not fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Paul cited the NIH’s recent admission that it funded experiments in Wuhan designed to make a naturally occurring bat coronavirus more dangerous, and accused Fauci of playing semantic games with the definition of “gain of function” research to avoid admitting that he lied in his previous appearances before the committee.
“Your persistent denials… are not simply a stain in your reputation but a clear and present danger to the country and to the world,” Paul said, before demanding that Fauci resign as the director of the NIAID.
“Why does it matter? Because gain-of-function research, with laboratory created viruses not found in nature could cause a pandemic even worse the next time. We’re suffering from one today that has a mortality of approximately one percent. They’re experimenting with viruses that have mortalities of between 15 and 50 percent. Yes, our civilization could be a risk from one of these viruses,” Paul continued.
Senator @RandPaul to Dr. Fauci: “The preponderance of the evidence now points towards this coming from a lab, and what you’ve done is changed the definition on your website to try to cover your ass, basically.” pic.twitter.com/6fdOgCWlTW
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) November 4, 2021
He added that maintaining a scientific research relationship based on mutual trust with China is a potentially treacherous endeavor for national health and security.
“You mislead the public by saying that the published viruses could not be COVID. Well, exactly no one is alleging that. No one is alleging that the published viruses by the Chinese are COVID. What we are saying is that this was a risky type of research, it was risky to share this with the Chinese and that COVID may have been created from a not yet revealed virus,” Paul said.
The two then got into a debate over the semantics of what constitutes gain-of-function research. Paul reiterated that the process laid out in the NIH’s recent letter to Congress certainly qualifies as gain-of-function under the commonly used definition.
“You’re saying that’s not gain-of-function research?,” he asked.
“According to the framework and guidelines…,” Fauci started to say, before Paul interjected.
“What you’re doing is defining away gain-of-function. You’re simply saying it doesn’t exist because you changed the definition on the NIH website. This is terrible and you’re completely trying to escape that we should do something to try to prevent a pandemic from leaking from a lab,” the senator rebutted.
In October, a top NIH official admitted in a letter that U.S. taxpayers funded gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan and exhibited that EcoHealth Alliance, the U.S. non-profit that channeled NIH funds to the WIV, was not transparent about the work it was conducting.
The doctor has repeatedly claimed that gain-of-function is a very niche category of research that by definition must involve a highly transmissible virus with a high rate of mortality, and that experiments must be conducted to intentionally “enhance” that transmissibility. He argued that the research described in the NIH letter does not qualify under the agencies most recent definition of the term.
A previously unpublished EcoHealth grant proposal submitted to NIAID, acquired by The Intercept, had already revealed that $599,000 of the total grant to the WIV was for research designed to make viruses more dangerous and/or infectious.
Finally, Paul said the preponderance of the evidence supports the lab-accident hypothesis of the pandemic, which Fauci subsequently refuted as before.
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