Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Dr. Anthony Fauci say the other is lying about whether the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded gain-of-function (GOF) research in the Wuhan Institute.
They can't both be right.
Fauci told Congress in May that the NIH did not fund GOF in Wuhan. However, Paul said the NIH did fund GOF in Wuhan and refuses to let Fauci slide.
This exchange is a big deal. If Paul's claims are true, then it would prove Fauci did lie to Congress in May. It would also prove that the federal government (NIH) did fund GOF research in Wuhan and has tried to cover it up.
And for all the non-virologists out there, gain-of-function research "involves experimentation that aims or is expected to (and/or, perhaps, actually does) increase the transmissibility and/or virulence of pathogens."
Paul: "Viruses that, in nature, only infect animals, were manipulated in the Wuhan lab to gain the function of infecting humans. This research fits the definition of the research that the NIH said was subject to the pause in 2014 to 2017, a pause in funding on gain of function. But the NIH failed to recognize this, defines it away, and it never came under any scrutiny. [...] Dr. Fauci, knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11, where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?"
Fauci: "Senator Paul I have never lied before the congress and I do not retract that statement. This paper that you were referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function."
Hey! That's pretty neat! A bunch of "qualified staff up and down the chain" (a.k.a. eXpErTs) are telling us there's nothing to see here!
This sounds like another example of D.C. Swamp Creatures Doing Swamp Creature Things -- covering up their own lies and incompetence with their "expert pedigree."
Paul: "You take an animal virus and increase the transmissibility to humans. You're saying that's not gain of function?"
Fauci: "That is correct. And, Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about."
Paul: "Let's read from the NIH's definition for gain-of-function. This is your definition that you guys wrote. It says that "scientific research that increases the transmissibility among animals" is gain of function. They took animal viruses that only occur in animals and they increase their transmissibility to humans. How you can say that is not gain-of-function--It's a dance. And you're dancing around this because you're trying to obscure responsibility for four million people dying around the world from a pandemic."
It's hard to argue with Paul literally quoting the NIH's own definition as it perfectly matches what was reportedly going on in that Wuhan lab. And that's why Fauci tries everything he can to "dance" around it.
So, Fauci, running out of arguments, used the ol' tactic of insinuating your opponent is a conspiracy theorist. Paul quickly countered Fauci's move.
Fauci: "If the point you are making is that the grant ... created SARS-CoV-2,--that's where you are getting--let me finish."
Paul: "We don't know if it didn't come from the lab, but all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab and there will be responsibility for those who funded the lab, including yourself."
Fauci: "I totally resent the lie that you are now propagating, Senator, because if you look at the viruses that were used in the experiments [...] it is molecularly impossible--."
Paul: "No one is saying those viruses caused the pandemic. What we're alleging is that gain-of-function research was going on in that lab and NIH funded it. You can't get away from it, it meets your definition, and you are obfuscating the truth."
Who needs UFC when you can watch an absolute SLUGFEST like this for free on C-SPAN?
Judging from Paul's determination, I don't think we've seen the end of this one, folks.