Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been a thorn in the side of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, as Paul has insisted that Covid-19 was created from a lab in Wuhan, China, despite not having definitive proof. But Fauci is steadfast in his denial that the National Institutes of Health knowingly funded gain-of-function research on viruses that could have created Covid-19, telling George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, “It is molecularly impossible for those viruses that were worked on to turn into” Covid-19.
Paul claimed when Fauci testified before Congress in July that NIH funded gain-of-function research that would increase a virus’s transmissibility to humans. And in an interview with Axios set to air Sunday night, Paul reiterated that claim and said Fauci should be fired “for lack of judgment.”
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“He’s probably never going to admit that he lied,” Paul said of Fauci. “He’s going to continue to dissemble and try to work around the truth and massage the truth.”
“I obviously totally disagree with Senator Paul,” Fauci told George Stephanopoulos on Sunday’s ABC This Week. “He’s absolutely incorrect. Neither I nor Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the NIH, lied or misled about what we’ve done.”
The NIH sent a letter to Congress last week describing an “unexpected result” from research by EcoHealth Alliance that made a bat coronavirus more transmissible, but, according to Fauci, that was not the goal of the research, and it would have been “molecularly impossible” for that particular virus to turn into Covid-19.
Fauci, who has been targeted by the right since the start of the pandemic when he dared contradict Trump, continued by explaining the funding that went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducted with strict oversight. Additionally, NIH said in the letter that it did not know about gain-of-function in that study because EcoHealth did not report out those results until this past August, after Fauci testified to Congress in July. But, according to Vanity Fair, EcoHealth says it reported this to NIH in 2018.
“The research was very strictly under what we call a framework of oversight of the type of research, and under those conditions which we have explained very, very clearly, does not constitute research of gain of function of concern,” Fauci said.
He added, “There’s all of this concern about what’s gain of function or what’s not, with the implication that that research led to SARS-CoV-2, and Covid-19, which, George, unequivocally anything that knows anything about viral biology and phylogeny of viruses know that it is molecularly impossible for those viruses that were worked on to turn into SARS-CoV-2 because they were distant enough molecularly that no matter what you did to them, they could never, ever become SARS-CoV-2.”
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