Things got heated during a Senate hearing on Thursday when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) confronted Dr. Anthony Fauci once again, this time accusing him of trying “to cover your ass” and playing word games over his denials about whether the National Institutes of Health funded shady gain-of-function research in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Gain-of-function research is “a form of genetic manipulation on micro-organisms.” It has been widely speculated that this type of research is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, and that Fauci’s National Institute of Health (NIH) has funded research of this magnitude in China.
“What we are saying is that this was a risky type of research — gain-of-function research — it was risky to share this with the Chinese and that Covid may have been created from a not yet revealed virus,” Paul told Fauci.
“We don’t anticipate that the Chinese are going to reveal the virus if Covid came from their lab. You know that, and yet you continue to mislead. You continue to support NIH funding going to Wuhan. You continue to say you trust the Chinese scientists. You appear to have learned nothing from this pandemic.”
“Will you today finally take some responsibility for funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan?” the Republican senator asked.
“Senator, with all due respect, I disagree with so many of the things that you’ve said,” Fauci responded. “First of all, gain of function is a very nebulous term. We have spent — not us, but outside bodies — a considerable amount of effort to give a more precise definition to the type of research that is of concern that might lead to a dangerous situation. You are aware of that. That is called P3CO.” He was referring to the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight guidelines.”
Paul, however, was not having any of it. He told Fauci, “[W]e are aware that you deleted ‘gain of function’ from the NIH website.”
“Let’s get back to the operating framework and guardrails which we operate under. And you have ignored them,” Fauci shot back. “The guidelines are very very clear that you have to be dealing with a pathogen that clearly is shown, and very likely to be highly transmissible and uncontrollable in humans, and to have a high degree of morbidity and mortality, and that you do experiments to enhance that, hence the word ePPP — enhanced potential pandemic pathogen.”
“So, when EcoHealth Alliance took the virus SHC014 and combined it with WIV1 and caused a recombinant virus that doesn’t exist in nature and it made mice sicker — mice that had humanized cells — you’re saying that that’s not gain-of-function research?” Paul questioned.
“According to the framework and guidelines —” Fauci attempted to respond, but Paul cut him off, as if he was far too tired of the doctor’s nonsense by then to continue listening.
“So 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,” Paul said. “This is terrible, and you’re completely trying to escape the idea that we should do something about trying to prevent a pandemic from leaking from a lab. The preponderance of evidence now points to this coming from a lab. And what you’ve done is changed the definition on your website to try to cover your ass, basically.”
“You have to admit that this research was risky,” he added. “The NIH has now rebuked them — your own agency has rebuked them. The thing is that you’re still unwilling to admit that they gained in function when they say they became sicker. They gained in lethality. It’s a new virus. That’s not gain of function?”
Fauci continued to deny that it was gain of function research as he continued to try and shirk responsibility. Finally, Paul ended the exchange by addressing Fauci directly.
“Until you accept it, until you accept responsibility, we’re not going to get anywhere close to trying to prevent another lab leak of this dangerous sort of experiment,” Paul said. “You won’t admit that it’s dangerous, and for that lack of judgment, I think it’s time that you resign.”
Check out the full fiery exchange between these two below.
Sen. Rand Paul to Dr. Anthony Fauci: "I think it's time that you resign." pic.twitter.com/lAsP6Ubf7e
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) November 4, 2021