Fauci Says Rand Paul Is “Extremely Incorrect” About Gain-of-Function Research

White House Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci makes a public statement ahead of the Senate hearing on health, education, work and pensions on “Next Steps: The Way Forward for the Response to COVID-19 ”at Capitol Hill in Washington, United States on November 4, 2021.

Élisabeth Frantz | Reuters

White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci and Senator Rand Paul traded blows during a Senate hearing Thursday over Paul’s claims that the National Institutes of Health supported the research gain operational in Wuhan, China.

Paul called on Fauci to step down, accusing the NIH of funding research in Wuhan that involved experimenting with existing pathogens to make them more contagious in hopes of understanding future infectious diseases. Fauci called Paul’s line of questioning a “blatant misrepresentation” and rebuffed the theory that Covid-19 originated in a lab.

“It makes me very uncomfortable having to say something, but it is extremely incorrect in what it says,” Fauci said of Paul.

Fauci and Paul, the Republican junior senator from Kentucky, have clashed several times in recent Senate hearings. Paul had previously accused Fauci of lying to Congress about the research into the office-taking during a July 20 hearing.

Paul claimed Thursday that the EcoHealth Alliance, an NIH-funded nonprofit, had engineered a disease that doesn’t exist in nature by combining viruses in a lab. Fauci responded that Paul’s accusations did not meet the NIH’s definition for office gain research, adding that he disagreed with Paul’s claim that the coronavirus had leaked for the first time from a lab in 2019.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) questions the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on the Ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the Dirksen Building Senate office on Capitol Hill on November 04, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

“No one is alleging that the viruses released by the Chinese are Covid,” Paul said. “What we’re saying is that it was a risky type of research. Gain functional research, it was risky to share this with the Chinese, and that Covid may have been created from a virus not yet revealed. “

Paul claimed the definition of gain-of-office research changed on the NIH website, but Fauci said the definition used by the agency was developed over more than two years before it was made official. by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in January of 2017.

“You won’t admit it’s dangerous, and for this lack of judgment, I think it’s time you quit,” Paul said.

The National Intelligence Council released an assessment on Covid-19 last month, signaling that the intelligence community “remains divided over the most likely origin” of the virus. US intelligence agencies are considering two possibilities, according to the report: “natural exposure to an infected animal and an incident associated with the laboratory.”

The report also ruled out China creating Covid as a biological weapon, adding that the Chinese government “likely had no prior knowledge” of the virus before the Wuhan Institute of Virology began isolating the cases. But to come to a formal conclusion on the origins of Covid, the researchers wrote that they would need “more transparency and collaboration from Beijing.”

“Even if we leave all possibilities open, it’s much more likely that this is a natural event,” Fauci said.

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