Senator Rand Paul once again lit into Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
The Kentucky senator warned the doctor about the criminal implications of lying to Congress before confronting him on evidence that NIAID had indeed funded ‘gain of function’ research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, which some believe to be the source of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Dr. Fauci, as you’re aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Senator Paul said. “Section 1001 of the U.S. Criminal Code creates a felony and a five-year penalty for lying to Congress.”
“On your last trip to our committee on May 11th, you stated that the NIH has not ever and has not now funded gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Paul continued. “And yet, gain of function research was done entirely in the Wuhan Institute by Dr. Shi and was funded by the NIH.”
“I’d like to ask unanimous consent, insert into the record that Wuhan virology paper entitled ‘Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses’,” he continued. “Please deliver a copy of the journal article to Dr. Fauci. In this paper, Dr. Shi credits the NIH and lists the actual number of the grant that she was given by the NIH. In this paper, she took two bat Coronavirus genes, spike genes, and combined them with SARS-related backbone to create new viruses that are not found in nature. These lab-created viruses were then to show to replicate in humans.”
“These experiments combined genetic information from different coronaviruses that infect animals, but not humans, to create novel artificial viruses able to infect human cells,” Paul added. “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 that the NIH said was subject to the pause in 2014-2017, a pause in funding on gain of function.”
“But the NIH failed to recognize this defines it away, and it never came under any scrutiny,” he continued. “Doctor Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist from Rutgers described this research in Wuhan as ‘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, potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in the lab, not in nature. This research matches — these are Dr. Ebright’s words — this research matches, indeed epitomizes, the definition of gain of function research done entirely in Wuhan, for which there was supposed to be a federal pause. Dr. Fauci, knowing that it’s a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11th where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?” he asked.
“Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,” Fauci denied. “This paper that you’re referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function. What was — ”
“So you — ” Paul interjected.
“Let me finish!” Fauci burst.
“So you take an animal virus and you increase the transmissibility to humans, you’re saying that’s not gain of function?” Paul asked.
“Yeah, that is correct,” Fauci continued. “And Senator Paul, you do not know what you’re talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about. Okay, you get one person — ”
“The NIH,” Paul began.
“Can I answer?” Fauci cut in.
“This is your definition that you guys wrote,” Paul said. “It says that scientific research that increases the transmissibility among mammals is gain of function. They took animal viruses that only occur in animals and they increase their transmissibility to humans. How you can say that is not gain of function?”
“It is not,” Fauci claimed.
“It’s a dance, and you’re dancing around this, because you’re trying to obscure responsibility for 4 million people dying around the world from a pandemic,” Paul said.
“I have to — well, now you’re getting into something,” Fauci replied. “If the point that you are making is that the — the grant that was funded as a sub-award from EcoHealth to Wuhan created SARS-CoV-2, that’s where you are getting — let me finish.”
“We don’t know if it did come from the lab, but all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab and there will be responsibility for those who funded the lab, including yourself,” Paul continued.
“I totally resent…” Fauci objected.
“This committee will allow the witness to respond,” an unknown member of the body said.
“I totally resent the lie that you are now propagating, senator, because if you look at the viruses that were used in the experiments that were given in the annual reports that were published in the literature, it is molecularly impossible,” Fauci claimed.
“No one’s saying those viruses caused it,” Paul clarified. “No one is alleging that those viruses caused the pandemic. What we’re alleging is the gain of function research was going on in that lab and NIH funded it.”
“That is not…” Fauci denied.
“You can’t get away from it,” Paul said. “It meets your definition and you are obfuscating the truth.”
“I’m not obfuscating truth. You are the one,” Fauci said before someone remarked that Senator Paul’s time had expired. Fauci was given time to respond.
“Let me just finish,” Fauci said. “I want everyone to understand that if you look at those viruses — and that’s judged by qualified virologist, an evolutionary biologist — those viruses are molecularly impossible to result in SARS-CoV-2.”
“No one is saying they are,” Paul said. “No one is saying those viruses caused the pandemic. We’re saying they are gain-of-function viruses because they are animal viruses that became more transmissible in humans and you funded it. And you can’t admit the truth.”
“And you are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual…” Fauci responded.
“It could have beenn,” Paul said. “It could have been.”
“I totally resent that,” Fauci erupted. “And if anybody is lying here, senator, it is you!”
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.