White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci makes an open statement ahead of the Senate Hearing on Health, Education, Labor and Retirement on “The Way Forward: The Next Steps Against COVID-19” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 4, 2021 of the year.
Elisabeth Franz | Reuters
White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and Senator Rand Paul exchanged blows at a Senate hearing on Thursday over Paul’s statements that the National Institutes of Health supported the expansion of functional research in Wuhan, China.
Paul urged Fauci to step down, accusing the NIH of funding research in Wuhan that involved experimenting with existing pathogens to make them more infectious, in the hopes of understanding future infectious diseases. Fauci called Paul’s line of interrogation a “blatant distortion of facts” and dismissed the theory that Covid-19 originated in the laboratory.
“I am very embarrassed to say something, but he is completely wrong in what he says,” Fauci said 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 about expanding functional research during a hearing on July 20.
Paul said Thursday that the EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit organization funded by the NIH, engineered a disease that doesn’t exist in nature by combining viruses in a laboratory. Fauci responded that Paul’s allegations did not fit the NIH’s definition of increasing functional research, adding that he disagreed with Paul’s claim that the coronavirus first leaked out of the lab in 2019.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) asks Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing about the ongoing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic at the Dirksen Senate office Capitol Hill Building on November 4 2021 in Washington DC.
Chip Somodeville | Getty Images
“Nobody claims that the viruses published by the Chinese are Covid,” Paul said. “We say it was a risky type of research. The increased functionality, it was risky to share this with the Chinese, and that Covid could have been created from a virus that has not yet been detected. “
Paul argued that the definition of benefit from functional research changed on the NIH website, but Fauci said that the definition used by the agency was developed over two years before it was formalized by the White House Science and Technology Policy Office. in January 2007. 2017 Nov.
“You don’t admit that it’s dangerous, and because of this lack of judgment, I think it’s time for you to step down,” Paul said.
National Intelligence Council issued an estimate last month on Covid-19, reporting that the intelligence community “remains divided over the most likely origin” of the virus. The report says US intelligence agencies are weighing two possibilities: “natural contact with an infected animal and a laboratory-related incident.”
The report also ruled out that China created Covid as a biological weapon, adding that the Chinese government “probably had no foresight” about the virus before the Wuhan Institute of Virology began isolating cases. But to come to a formal conclusion about the origin of Covid, the researchers wrote that they would need “more transparency and cooperation from Beijing.”
“Even if we leave all possibilities open, it is far more likely that it was a natural occurrence,” Fauci said.