An infuriated Dr Anthony Fauci told senator Rand Paul that he was “entirely and completely incorrect“ for accusing federal agencies of funding Wuhan’s institute of virology and the development of Covid.
During a congressional hearing on the coronavirus on Tuesday, Mr Paul falsely accused federal agencies of funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan, forcing Dr Fauci to call out the conspiracy.
It is alleged — although without evidence — that Covid was developed through gain-of-function research, whereby Chinese scientists in Wuhan increased its transmissibility to see how it could emerge in future.
Although the US banned the form of research as far back as 2014, and with no US funding for it in almost all forms, Mr Paul told Dr Fauci: “Can you imagine if a SARs virus that has been juiced up, and had viral proteins added to it, to the spike protein, if that were released accidentally?”
Dr Fauci told the senator: “You are entirely and completely incorrect that the NIH (National Institute of Health) has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan institute...and if it is, it is according to the guidelines and it is being conducted in North Carolina, not China”.
The retort by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director and top medical adviser followed allegations by Mr Paul and one other Republican that the NIH and NIAID funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan.
Senator Roger Marshall, following the fraught exchange between Mr Paul and Dr Fauci, alleged: “If Covid-19 is indeed a product of lab manipulation, can you sit here and unequivocally say that viral studies that NIAH funded, helped fund, could not be directly or indirectly related to this final Covid-19 virus”.
Dr Fauci responded: “Yeah, looking at the experiments that we’ve done, we’ve funded, there would not be that possibility...[and] as I mentioned in response to senator Paul, the NIAH and the NIAD did not fund gain-of-function research to be conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology”.
The conservative news site WorldNetDaily alleged in an article last year that Dr Fauci’s NIAID funded the Wuhan institute of virology, and its research into Covid, with an article titled: “New evidence ties Covid-19 creation to research funded by Fauci”.
The NIAID was in fact responsible for funding another form of research at the facility, as the Austin-American Statesman reported, with WorldNetDaily retracting its initial “findings”.
In January, officials from the US state department alleged that studies on “animal-derived coronaviruses under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure” were carried out in Wuhan, and refused to rule it out as a theory for coronavirus.
But, as Dr Fauci told Congress on Tuesday, that theory remains without any real evidence, and federal agencies were not funding the research inside Wuhan’s institute of virology.
“I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done, and I’m fully in favour of any further investigation of what went on in China,” Dr Fauci told Congress. “However, I will repeat again, the NIH and the NIAID categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan institute of virology”.