Rand Paul Pummels Anthony Fauci After NIH Admits Taxpayers Funded Gain-Of-Function Research in Wuhan
11:33 GMT 22.10.2021 (Updated: 07:56 GMT 24.10.2021)
In a letter to Rep. James Comer of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on 20 October, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) official admitted to funding a "limited experiment" in gain-of-function research on bats infected with coronaviruses at a lab in Wuhan, China.
After the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dropped a bombshell by coming clean about the US funding gain-of-function viral research in a lab in China’s Wuhan, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) aimed a barrage of condemnation at Dr. Anthony Fauci over his persistent denial of the issue to Congress.
The senator from Kentucky, appearing on Fox News Primetime, ultimately accused the director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of lying. He claimed Fauci has been intentionally “parsing words” to dodge admitting that the civilisation-threatening experiments could have been conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) with grant funds funnelled from the NIH.
Some senior US officials have repeatedly claimed that the COVID-19 virus was genetically-engineered at the WIV bio lab and escaped by accident - allegations that Beijing has consistently rejected.
The Republican politician, who had often engaged in verbal sparring with Fauci during Senate hearings on the matter, admitted he felt validated after Thursday’s revelation.
In a letter on 21 October, addressed to Rep. James Comer, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, NIH official Lawrence A. Tabak admitted that a "limited experiment" in gain-of-function research had been conducted in order to test if "spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model".
The research involves extracting viruses from animals for subsequent artificial engineering to make them more transmissible and deadly to humans.
The letter revealed that laboratory mice infected with the modified bat virus "became sicker" than mice exposed to the unmodified bat virus.
Weighing in on the revelation, Rand Paul said: “This is a civilisation-ending kind of research. This research could release something that could destroy civilisation,” said Rand Paul. According to Rand Paul, Fauci could "never fully explain why [the experiments] are not gain-of-function”.
“His declination is this: it’s inadvertent, we didn’t know they were going to gain function. That is what a gain of function experiment is. You don’t know when you combine two viruses that they will be more deadly but it might be if you have half a brain you know if you combine two viruses it might be more deadly."
On 11 May, Fauci testified
to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that a $600,000 NIH grant he approved for the WIV was not for “gain-of-function” research, which often involves altering the genetic code of a naturally-occurring virus in one animal to make it capable of infecting another.
Later in the year, Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, and Sen. Rand Paul traded barbs at a Senate hearing about controversial NIH-funded research. In July Paul asked Fauci if he would like to retract his May testimony statement, reminding that “it is a crime to lie to Congress". Fauci, who oversees several NIH research programs as NIAID director, said:
“I have not lied before Congress. I have never lied. Certainly not before Congress. Case closed.”
In September, Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher urged Anthony Fauci to resign
, claiming new documents showed that the 80-year-old had lied about the US backing “gain-of-function” studies at Wuhan. Gallagher was referring to documents earlier obtained by The Intercept, which reportedly indicated that NIH had funded experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that made coronaviruses “more pathogenetic than the original virus”.
The GOP congressman emphasised that “grant reports” written by British-American zoologist Peter Daszak allegedly proved that “US taxpayer dollars supported research that made a virus at the WIV stronger than the original, naturally-occurring virus”. Rand Paul was cited as saying that together with other lawmakers he had referred Fauci to the Justice Department for investigation, but had little hope any probe would be forthcoming. The current developments feed into speculations regarding the origins of the coronavirus that unleashed the global pandemic
However, a report
from a World Health Organisation (WHO) investigative mission to Wuhan published in March found the lab-leak origin theory "extremely unlikely", reinforcing the explanation that the virus strain mutated naturally and could have spread to humans through the sale of wild animals such as bats and pangolins as culinary delicacies.