Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci engaged in another battle in the US Congress on Tuesday, as the senator, an ophthalmologist, grilled the doctor on what he referred to as "gain of function" research at a Wuhan lab.
Paul detailed the evidence that he claims proves that experimentation on gain of function research was happening at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and quotes the doctor who did this work on both her work and on the amount of funding she received from the NIH.
"Knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claim that the NIH never funded gain of function research in Wuhan." Paul asked Fauci.
"Senator Paul," Fauci began, "I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement. This paper that you are referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function."
Paul interrupted, "You take an animal virus, and you increase its transmissibility to humans, you're saying that's not gain of function?" He asked incredulously.
"That is correct," Fauci defended, "and Senator Paul you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially: You do not know what you are talking about."
Fauci took issue with what he perceived as Paul's insinuation that the "gain of function" research being discussed resulted in the COVID-19 pandemic. Paul clarified that "we don't know" that to be the case, with Fauci then asserting that it would be impossible.
Paul accused Fauci of obfuscating the truth, a charge which Fauci denied, saying "I want everyone to understand that if you look at those viruses, and that's judged by qualified virologists and evolutionary biologists, those viruses are molecularly impossible to result in SARS-COVID-2."
"No one is saying those viruses caused the pandemic," Paul clarified, "we're saying they are gain of function viruses because they were animal viruses that became more transmissible in humans, and you funded it. And you won't admit the truth."
"And you are implying," Fauci said, "that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals, and I totally resent that and if anybody is lying here, senator, it is you."
Paul first addressed to Fauci saying that it "is a crime to lie to congress." Paul went on, "On your last trip to our committee, on May 11, you stated that the NIH has not ever 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 Dr. Shi, and was funded by the NIH."
Paul entered a paper into the record for Congress, titled "Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus."
Paul stated that in this paper Dr. Shi outlines her research, which Paul describes as "gain of function", the amount of funding from the NIH is noted, and the NIH is praised for having granted these funds for her research. Shi "took two bat coronavirus genes, spike genes, and combined them with a SARS related backbone to create new viruses that are not found in nature. These lab created viruses were then shown to replicate in humans," Paul read.
It is this paper with which Fauci took issue.
"Viruses that in nature only impact animals," Paul said, "were manipulated in the Wuhan lab to gain the function of infecting humans. This research fits the definition of the research that the NIH said was subject to the 'pause' in 2014-2017, a pause in gain of function." Paul said, referencing the funding moratorium on gain of function research that was implemented in 2014 and lifted, by Fauci and others, in 2017.
Paul said that the NIH failed to recognize this, and it "never came under any scrutiny." Paul quoted other doctors who noted that this research into "novel coronaviruses was dangerous for humans." These were pathogens, Paul quoted, that these viruses are only found in the lab, and quoted a doctor saying that this practice "epitomizes gain of function research."
This is a breaking story and will be updated.