Sen. Rand Paul accused Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday of lying to Congress about U.S. support for gain-of-function research in the Wuhan virology lab at the heart of probes into COVID-19’s origins, sparking a fiery exchange.
“You do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially,” Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allery and Infectious Disease, told the senator.
Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, pointed to Dr. Fauci’s claim on May 11 that the National Institutes of Health did not fund a type of research that could make viruses more transmissible or dangerous to humans.
He pointed to a paper in which the Wuhan lab’s lead doctor credited NIH with supporting work that involved the combination of two bat coronavirus genes to create something not found in nature. He also reminded Dr. Fauci that lying to Congress is a crime.
Dr. Fauci said “qualified staff” determined it did not constitute gain-of-function research.
“I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,” Dr. Fauci said.
Mr. Paul said that did not comport with his reading of existing definitions.
“It’s a dance, and you’re dancing around this,” the senator said.
The exchange devolved into a testy exchange about whether Mr. Paul was implying that Dr. Fauci and NIH boosted research in China that may have led to the creation of the virus that causes COVID-19.
“I totally resent the lie you are now propagating,” Dr. Fauci said.
He said the viruses involved in the research raised by Mr. Paul could not result in the pathogen that caused the current pandemic.