White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr.Anthony Fauci and Senator Rand Paul had a heated exchange during a Senate hearing Tuesday morning after Paul accused Fauci of lying to Congress when Paul believes that the National Institutes of Health funded a laboratory in Wuhan, China, which contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul, R-Ky., Referred to a May meeting that Congress had with Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci said the NIH did not fund a gain-of-function project, which includes increasing virus transmissibility, at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
On May 19, the NIH said in a statement that it had supported previous grants to better understand viruses in bats and mammals, but had never approved a grant that would make COVID-19 more transmissible and deadly. .
However, Paul insisted that the research was funded by the NIH.
“Dr. Fauci, as you know, it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul said. “On May 11, you stated that the NIH has never and does not currently fund gain-of-function research and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. And yet gain-of-function research has been entirely performed at the Wuhan Institute.. and was funded by the NIH. “
Paul cited a research paper published in 2017 which indicates that it was funded by the NIH which discovered new strains of SARS that would provide “new information on the origin and course of SARS-CoV and highlights the need to prepare for the future emergence of SARS-like diseases. “
After Paul asked Fauci if he wanted to withdraw his previous statement, Fauci said he never lied to Congress.
“This document that you are referring to has been judged by qualified personnel, from top to bottom of the chain, as not being a gain of office,” said Fauci. After Paul’s interruption, Fauci continued, “Sen. Paul, you don’t know what you’re talking about, quite frankly, and I mean it officially. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The two then started talking to each other, before Paul said that Fauci was “dancing around” the idea that scientists were taking animal viruses and increasing their transmissibility to humans.
“You are trying to obscure the responsibility of the 4 million people who have died worldwide from a pandemic,” Paul said.
Fauci replied: “You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals. I don’t like that at all, and if anyone is lying here, senator, it is you.”
Asked by Senator Tina Smith, D-Minn., If he had any further comments on Paul’s request, Fauci said: “This is a model that Senator Paul has done now in several hearings based on no reality.
“I never lied, certainly not before Congress. Case closed,” he said.
This isn’t the first time the two have argued over this topic. Fauci had told Paul in September 2020 that he was spreading disinformation about the virus, and in May, Paul had argued that the virus may have originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.
Paul said in March it was a “theater” for people previously infected with COVID-19 or who received the vaccine to continue to wear masks.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fauci yells at Rand Paul about origin of COVID-19 during Senate hearing