Rhetorical fireworks ensued yet again on Tuesday when Sen. Rand Paul faced off with Dr. Anthony Fauci over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kentucky Republican, who has sparred with the infectious disease expert numerous times at Senate hearings, used the latest discussion to examine the extent of U.S. involvement with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“To arrive at the truth, the U.S. government should admit that the Wuhan Virology Institute was experimenting to enhance the coronavirus’s ability to infect humans,” Mr. Paul said.
The senator urged more transparency pertaining to the “juicing up” of “super viruses” in the lab for research purposes, which echoes claims by Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Redfield told CNN in March that COVID-19’s efficiency doesn’t make “biological sense” for a naturally occurring virus. Instead, he said it behaves like lab-made viruses “[that scientists] grow better and better and better and better and better and better so we can do experiments and figure out about it.”
“Scientists in the U.S. have long known how to mutate animal viruses to infect humans. Do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?” asked Mr. Paul, who is a medical doctor, albeit an ophthalmologist, not an epidemiologist.
Mr. Paul‘s premise was rejected by the NIAID director.
“With all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute,” Dr. Fauci said.
The debate then spilled over onto Twitter.
“Dr. Fauci dissembled or tried to hide his long-time support for ‘gain-of-function’ research which creates super-viruses that jump from animals to humans,’ Mr. Paul tweeted. “[Eleven] labs in the U.S. create these super-viruses in the U.S. and one of them collaborated with Wuhan Virology Inst — Fauci has supported NIH funds for all these labs!”