White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul got into a heated exchange at a Senate hearing Tuesday over whether the National Institutes of Health funded controversial research the GOP senator claims could have contributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Paul questioned Fauci about an NIH-funded study that he claims qualifies as gain-of-function research, the process of altering a pathogen in a lab to make it more transmissible in order to better predict emerging diseases.
Paul asked Fauci if he would like to retract his denial in previous Senate testimony that the NIH has directly funded the research at a lab in Wuhan, China that has come under intense scrutiny as a possible source of the virus.
“Fauci, as you are aware it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul warned Fauci.
Fauci, who oversees several NIH research programs as director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would not be retracting his previous statement.
“I have not lied before Congress. I have never lied. Certainly not before Congress. Case closed,” Fauci said.
Fauci explained that the study Paul was referring to does not constitute gain-of-function research.
“Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I would like to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about,” Fauci fired back.
Paul shot back: “No one is saying those viruses caused the pandemic. What we’re alleging is that gain of function research was done in that lab and NIH funded it. You can’t get away from it, it meets your definition and you are obfuscating the truth.”
Fauci interjected to say Paul was the one who was obfuscating the truth.
“You are implying that what we did resulted in the deaths of individuals,” Fauci responded as he pointed his finger at Paul. “I totally resent that, and if anyone is lying here senator, it is you.”
Fauci has had it with Rand Paul’s posturing. And I’m so here for it. https://t.co/xhRqqp7IkK
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) July 20, 2021