Rand Paul Grills Fauci on Gain-of-Function: You Changed the Definition to ‘Cover Your Ass’

Senate HELP Committee

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) grilled Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday over his refusal to admit the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was funding gain-of-function research, bluntly telling the chief White House medical adviser that the NIH changed the definition on the website “to try to cover your ass.”

During the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Paul made it clear that he did not expect Fauci to admit that he approved gain-of-function research in Wuhan. However, he said Fauci’s repeated denials have “worn thin.”

“And a majority of Americans, frankly, don’t believe you,” he said.

“Even the NIH now admits that EcoHealth Alliance did perform experiments in Wuhan that created viruses not found in nature that actually did gain in lethality. The facts are clear,” Paul said. “The NIH did fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan despite your protestations.”

“You can deny it all you want but even the Chinese authors of the paper in their paper admit that viruses not found in nature were created and yes, they gained in infectivity,” he said, telling Fauci his “persistent denials” are “not simply a stain on your reputation but are a clear and present danger to the country and to the world.”

Paul said it matters because such research could trigger an even worse pandemic in the future — one with a mortality rate significantly higher than the one percent seen now with the Chinese coronavirus.

Paul said:

They’re experimenting with viruses that have mortalities between 15 and 50 percent. Yes, our civilization could be at risk from one of these viruses. It’s incredibly risky. Experiments that combine unknown viruses with coronaviruses with as much as 15 percent mortality could endanger civilization as we know it. Yet here you sit, unwilling to accept any responsibility for the pandemic and unwilling to take steps to prevent gain of function research from possibly unleashing a deadly virus.

Despite knowing the risks, Paul said Fauci has continued to “mislead” the American public and support the research in Wuhan.

“You continue to say you trust the Chinese scientists. You appear to have learned nothing from this pandemic. Will you today finally take some responsibility for funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan?” he asked.

Fauci adamantly denied Paul’s accusations, calling gain-of-function a “nebulous term.”

“We have spent, not us but outside bodies, a considerable amount of effort to give a more precise definition to the type of research that is of concern that might lead to a dangerous situation. You are aware of that,” Fauci said before Paul interjected.

“We’re aware that you deleted gain-of-function to the NIH website,” Paul snapped as Fauci continued to beat around the bush, refusing to concede:

The guidelines are very, very clear, that you have to be dealing with a pathogen that clearly is shown and very likely to be highly transmissible in an uncontrollable way in humans and to have a high delve morel degree of morbidity and mortality, and you do experiments to enhance that, hence the word EPPP, enhanced pathogens —

That prompted Paul to ask about EcoHealth Alliance, which experimented with a virus and created one “that doesn’t exist in nature and it made mice sicker.”

“You’re saying that’s not gain-of-function research,” he said, blasting Fauci for changing the definition to cover his “ass.”

You’re simply saying it doesn’t exist because you changed the definition on the NIH website. This is terrible and you’re completely trying to escape the idea that we should do something about trying to prevent a pandemic from leaking from a lab. And what you’ve done is change the definition on your website to try to cover your ass, basically. That’s what you’ve done, you’ve changed the website to change the definition that doesn’t include the risky research that’s going on. Until you admit that it’s risky, we’re not going to get anywhere. You have to admit that this research was risky. The NIH has now rebuked them, your own agency has rebuked them. You’re still unwilling to admit that they gained in function when they say they became sicker. They gained in lethality. It’s a new virus. That’s not gain-of-function?

“According to the definition that is currently operable,” Fauci began, triggering a laugh from Paul.

Fauci continued:

You know, senator, let’s make it clear for the people who are listening. The current definition was done over — to three-year period by outside bodies including the NSABB, two conferences by the national academy of science, engineering, and medicine, on September 2014, March 2016. We commissioned external risk/benefit assessment on January of 2017. The office of science and technology policy, the White House, issued the current policy.

“Until you accept responsibility, we’re not going to get anywhere close to prevent another lab leak of this dangerous experiment. You won’t admit that it’s dangerous. And for that lack of judgment, I think it’s time that you resign,” Paul added, making the declaration straight to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor’s face.

Watch the entire exchange below:

Senate HELP Committee


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