White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci makes an open statement prior to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on “Next Steps: The Path for the COVID-19 Response” on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, November 4, 2021.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
The Chief Medical Advisor to the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Senator Rand Paul exchanged views on Paul’s claims that the National Institutes of Health are supporting the acquisition of functional research in Wuhan, China, at a Senate hearing Thursday.
Paul urged Fauci to resign, accusing the NIH of funding research in Wuhan that experimented with existing pathogens to make them more contagious in hopes of understanding future infectious diseases. Fauci called Paul’s question a “egregious misrepresentation” and rejected the theory that Covid-19 came from a laboratory.
“I feel very uncomfortable having to say something, but he’s tremendously wrong in what he says,” said Fauci of Paul.
Fauci and Paul, the Junior Republican Senator from Kentucky, have clashed repeatedly during past Senate hearings. Paul previously accused Fauci of lying to Congress during a hearing about the gain of functional research on the 20th of July.
Paul claimed Thursday that the EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization funded by the NIH, developed a disease that doesn’t exist in nature by combining viruses in a laboratory. Fauci responded that Paul’s allegations did not match the NIH’s definition of gaining functional research, adding that he disagreed with Paul’s claim that the coronavirus leaked from a lab for the first time in 2019.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) questions the Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing about the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the Dirksen Senate office Buildings on Capitol Hill on November 04, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
“Nobody claims that the viruses released by the Chinese are Covid,” said Paul. “What we are saying is that this was a risky kind of research. Gaining functional research, it was risky to share with the Chinese, and that Covid may have originated from an as-yet-to-be-revealed virus.”
Paul claimed the definition of function gains research changed on the NIH website, but Fauci said the definition used by the agency was developed over the course of more than two years before being formalized by the White House on science and technology policy in January became 2017.
“You’re not going to admit it’s dangerous, and because of that lack of judgment, I think it’s time you stepped back,” Paul said.
The National Intelligence Council published an assessment Last month on Covid-19 reported that the intelligence community “remains divided” on “the most likely origin” of the virus. US intelligence agencies are weighing two options, the report said: “natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-related incident.”
The report also ruled out China making 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 cases. However, in order to come to a formal conclusion about the origins of Covid, the researchers wrote that they would need “more transparency and cooperation from Beijing.”
“While we’re leaving all options open, it’s much more likely that this was a natural occurrence,” said Fauci.