Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) wasted no time going after Anthony Fauci in this week’s Senate hearing on the origins of the coronavirus.
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress. Section 1001 of the U.S. criminal code creates a felony and a five-year penalty for lying to Congress,” Paul said. “On your last trip to our committee, on May 11, you stated that the NIH has not ever and has not now funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. And yet, gain-of-function research was done entirely at the Wuhan institute by Dr. Shi and was funded by the NIH.”
“Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about and I want to say that officially,” Fauci fired back.
No love lost between these two.
The fact is, funds from the National Institute of Health (NIH) did end up going to Wuhan for coronavirus research. According to Fox News and FactCheck.org, nearly $600,000 from an NIH grant to the U.S.-based EcoHealth Alliance went to the Wuhan lab. What Paul and Fauci can’t seem to agree on, is whether or not that money was used for “gain-of-function” research.
So what is “gain-of-function” research?
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is, “known for its bat coronavirus research, and so-called ‘gain of function’ methods, which involves manipulating viruses to make them more infectious for research,” Fox News reports.
Why is that important?
If the NIH donated funds to the Wuhan lab, and the money was used in gain-of-function research – and the virus originated from a lab leak – the NIH could conceivably have indirectly contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic; a fringe theory that is quickly becoming mainstream.
Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, who has been covering the pandemic over the past year, sent the following tweet after the Senate hearing: “Hey guys, [Rand Paul] was right and Fauci was wrong. The NIH was funding gain of function research in Wuhan but NIH pretended it didn’t meet their “gain of function” definition to avoid their own oversight mechanism. SorryNotSorry if that doesn’t fit your favorite narrative.”
Ex-New York Times health reporter Donald McNeil says there is strong evidence for the lab leak theory: “We still do not know the source of this awful pandemic…but the argument that it could have leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology…has become considerably stronger than it was a year ago, when the screaming was so loud that it drowned out serious discussion.”
We may not have to wait long for Rand Paul and Anthony Fauci to go another round.