Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and Dr. Anthony Fauci again clashed over alleged U.S. government funding of gain-of-function research on bat coronavirus in Wuhan, China, during testimony before a Senate committee on Tuesday.
Paul implied that Fauci misled Congress during May testimony, in which Fauci said the U.S. had never funded gain-of-function projects at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Gain-of-function research involves making viruses more contagious or deadly in a laboratory.
Paul said that in May 11 testimony, Fauci “stated that the NIH has never and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. And yet, gain-of-function research was done entirely in the Wuhan institute by Doctor Shi [Zhengli] and was funded by the NIH.”
Paul cited a paper by WIV scientists entitled “Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus”, which describes efforts to produce “chimeric” coronaviruses, i.e. altered by man. The paper lists the NIH as a source of funding, and Paul asserted that the research recorded in the paper “explicitly matches the definition of gain-of-function research.”
“Knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress…do you wish to retract your May 11 claim that the NIH never funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan?” Paul asked Fauci.
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement,” Fauci answered. “This paper was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function.”
Paul interjected, “When you take an animal virus, and you increase its transmissibility to humans—you’re saying that’s not gain-of-function research?”
Fauci said, “That is correct, and Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly.”
“If anybody is lying here, Senator, it is you.”
— Dr. Fauci to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). pic.twitter.com/mrEQTCHgRN
— The Recount (@therecount) July 20, 2021
Paul then read an NIH definition of gain-of-function research.
“It says that ‘scientific research that increases the transmissibility among animals is gain-of-function,'” Paul said. The WIV researchers “took animal viruses…then increased their transmissibility to humans. How you can say that is not gain-of-function—it’s a dance, and you’re dancing around this, because you’re trying to obscure responsibility for four million people around the world dying from a pandemic.”
“I totally resent the lie you are now propagating, Senator,” Fauci said. “If you look at those viruses” studied in the WIV paper, “those viruses are molecularly impossible to result in SARS-CoV-2… You are implying what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals. If anybody is lying here, Senator, it is you.”