Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top public health official, has denounced ‘inflammatory statements’ made about him by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who suggested he should be ‘criminally referred’ for lying to Congress.
The issue was addressed during an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News on Friday night which also dealt with the issue of the U.S. funding viral research at a Chinese lab in Wuhan.
Paul, a libertarian Republican who has frequently sparred with Fauci, engaged in a blazing row with the health official on Tuesday.
Both men ended up calling the other a liar in a remarkable exchange during a Senate hearing.
Fauci then denounces the “inflammatory statements” about him and U.S. funding in Wuhan as beneath him: “I’m a scientist and my job…is to be a scientist and a public health official. I certainly don’t like how all of this has turned out to be so contentious.” pic.twitter.com/lNEVN1n2K2
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) July 23, 2021
Speaking to @TeamCavuto, Dr. Fauci hits back at @JoshRogin and @RandPaul, saying that the Wuhan funding and gain of function research discussion is “more complicated than [what’s being said]…Those scientists were well-respected in the scientific community internationally.” pic.twitter.com/QMcwwo8laZ
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) July 23, 2021
‘I’m a scientist and my job, which I’m doing, which we’ve done with the development of the vaccines that saved millions of lives already is to be a scientist and a public health official. I certainly don’t like how all of this has turned out to be so contentious,’ Fauci explained.
During one part of the interview, Fauci was questioned about an article that had appeared in the Washington Post that stated: ‘What everyone can now see clearly is that National Institutes of Health (NIH) was collaborating on risky research with a Chinese lab that has zero transparency and zero accountability during a crisis — and no one in a position of power addressed that risk. Fauci is arguing the system worked. It didn’t.’
Dr. Fauci attempted to explain the link between U.S. researchers and the Chinese laboratory clearly to Fox viewers and stress there was no ‘risky research’ involved.
‘If you look at the research that was done, it was research that was highly recommended by peer review, our United States peer reviews. It got a very high score in the peer review system,’ Fauci began.
Paul, an eye surgeon for 18 years, has frequently clashed with Fauci about COVID-19
‘And the purpose of the research was very, very clear. It was to try to determine what was out there in the bat population that might be ultimately risky for us. It was done in the context of trying to find out what the precise environmental bat source was of SARS-CoV-1 so that we could prevent SARS-CoV-2.’
Dr. Fauci praised the ‘qualified, highly respected Chinese scientists’ that the National Institutes of Health had collaborated with at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and defended the funding of bat coronavirus research in China.
Fauci added: ‘So, it was research that was done by qualified people. Right now, when there’s all of this thing about China, that’s a different situation now back then when you’re dealing with qualified, highly respected Chinese scientists. So it isn’t what was made out to be about dealing with really, really bad people. Because those scientists were very well-respected in the scientific community internationally.’
Fauci’s comments came over a debate over gain-of-function research and the possibility that COVID-19 originated at the Wuhan lab.
Fauci strongly denied Paul’s claims that he was lying to Congress, and told Paul that he was deeply mistaken in his arguments
Rand Paul is seen on Tuesday in the Senate, during the hearing of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
In a separate interview with CBS News, Fauci also took time to praise the stance the NFL has taken against unvaccinated players for the upcoming season.
Although some players appear to be openly unhappy at being encouraged to get vaccinated, Fauci approves of the tactic.
‘The NFL is sending a very strong signal that it’s very important to get vaccinated. If you want to play football and you want to do it in a way that you feel unrestricted and not worry about any penalties, you just get vaccinated, because they’re saying that if unvaccinated people get infected, there are going to be consequences.
‘I think that gives them the impetus to do the same sort of thing. And I think you’re going to be seeing that there will be local mandates, be they from colleges and universities or places of business that there will be pressures for people to get vaccinated,’ Fauci said.
The NFL outlined the new policy in a memo to teams earlier in the week.
The policy is the strictest that any major American sports league has taken against unvaccinated players.
Fauci says other organizations, not just sports leagues, could follow the NFL’s example.
NFL teams have been warned they could forfeit a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak among non-vaccinated players with both teams potentially forgoing pay in that event. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is pictured (file photo)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league doesn’t not anticipate adding a 19th week to accommodate games that can’t be rescheduled within 18-week regular season
The NFL explained that it did not want to have to postpone and reschedule games should COVID-19 outbreaks occur this coming season.
Instead, if a game cannot be rescheduled after a COVID-19 outbreak various penalties can apply including:
The team will forfeit the game, the team will be responsible for all additional expenses incurred by the other team, the NFL will have the right to inflict additional punishments and players on both teams will not be paid.
It has been a tough week for Fauci following the clash with Senator Rand Paul who blasted him and NIH for funding coronavirus research at the Chinese lab.
On Tuesday night Paul told Fox News he wanted to take the matter further.
The NIH collaborated with at the Wuhan Institute of Virology over the years but Dr Fauci insists it was never for gain-of-function that could make a disease more deadly
The lab conducts research on the world’s most dangerous diseases and has been accused by some top US officials of being the source of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic
‘I will be sending a letter to Department of Justice asking for a criminal referral because he has lied to congress,’ Paul told Sean Hannity.
Paul has insisted that Fauci funded ‘gain of function’ research in the Wuhan lab in China, whereby viruses are manipulated to make them more lethal and transmissible. The Wuhan lab is now seen as a possible source for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fauci has confirmed that his organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, funded research at Wuhan, but is adamant that the money was not direct towards gain of function.
Paul did not believe him.
‘We have scientists that will line up by the dozens saying the research he was funding was gain of function,’ Paul told Hannity.
‘He is doing this because he has a self interest to cover his tracks and to cover his connection to Wuhan lab. Now does he deserve all the blame? No, there’s still some conjecture as to whether or not it came from the lab. But he is lying about whether or not he funded gain of function research, and yes, he should be punished.’
What is Gain of Function research?
Gain of Function Research (GOF) is a controversial practice that involves altering a virus or pathogen in order to study the development of new diseases and their transmission.
Scientists conducting GOF research modify naturally occurring viruses to make them more infectious so that they can replicate in human cells in a lab.
This allows the virus’s potential effects on humans to be studied and better understood. GOF has been considered controversial due to its inherent biosafety risks.
In 2014, the Obama administration imposed a moratorium on GOF which included halting funding for projects, however, this decision was overturned three years later by the National Institute of Health (NIH).
On May 25, 2021, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci defended funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology through a $600,000 grant given to the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, to study whether bat coronaviruses could be transmitted to humans.
He said the research was essential, pointing out that the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s was eventually traced back to bats.
However, Fauci claimed that under the terms of the funding, scientists were not to use the money on Gain of Function research.
The Justice Department is highly unlikely to seek to prosecute Fauci, who works within the government as Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor.
Paul has championed a Republican campaign to get Fauci, 80, removed as the head of the NIAID.
Paul accused Fauci of orchestrating a coverup of his role in funding the Wuhan lab.
Fauci told Paul before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, saying a study the senator mentioned referenced a different sort of virus entirely from the one responsible for the coronavirus outbreak.
‘Senator Paul, you do not know what you’re talking about, quite frankly,’ Fauci said.
‘And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you’re talking about. He added: ‘If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.’
Fauci had previously denied the NIH-funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab in May.
Paul suggested that NIH grants provided funding to the Wuhan lab which the Trump administration said carried out secretive gain-of-function experiments and worked with China’s military.
Fauci told Paul, ‘The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.’
Paul referenced a scientific paper from November 2017 that saw scientists ‘take two bat coronavirus genes — spike genes — and combined them with a SARS-related backbone to create new viruses that are not found in nature.’
The paper noted funding was provided by the NIH and the Chinese government.
‘I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement,’ Fauci said in response. ‘This paper that you are referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function.’
In May, the U.S. intelligence community suggested at least one agency was leaning towards a lab leak hypothesis.
Several officials within the former Trump administration including the president believed the Wuhan lab was most likely to be origin of COVID-19.
Health officials with the current Biden administration have responded by defending NIH’s funding and repeatedly defending the integrity of the Chinese scientists.
‘I had to speak the truth during the Trump administration, which at times was contrary to President Trump, that that annoyed a lot of people who got very upset with me and I wasn’t doing anything personal. I was just trying to speak the truth about what was really going on with the outbreak. It was nothing at all against President Trump,’ Fauci explained on Friday night.
‘I have never said anything derogatory against the president. I was only talking about correcting misstatements about the science. I had nothing against the president at all. When I was saying things that this is not going to just disappear, that this is not going to just go away, that we do have a very serious problem, that annoy add lot of trump loyalists. I’m sorry it annoyed them but it’s the truth.
‘That’s what I was trying to do and still do, to tell the truth.’
Fauci v Paul: The debate over gain-of-function research and the $600K NIH grant to the Wuhan lab
Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci have been at loggerheads over gain-of-function research and a $600,000 grant the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gave to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2014.
Gain of Function Research (GOF) is a controversial practice that involves altering a virus or pathogen in order to study the development of new diseases and their transmission. The research can ultimately make the virus more contagious or more deadly in a lab.
According to an NIH definition, GOF includes studying and altering viruses in animals to make them transmissible to humans – and potentially more contagious and deadly.
Paul accused Fauci on May 11 of misleading Congress by saying the U.S. has never funded gain-of-function projects at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Kentucky Republican points to a $3.7million grant NIH gave EcoHealth Alliance in 2014. EcoHealth Alliance in turn distributed nearly $600,000 of that funding to its collaborator, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Paul has maintained that emails from Fauci showed that he was worried NIH funded gain-of-function research in February 2020 when the pandemic first started to emerge.
In an interview in June, Paul told Fox News: ‘I think we’ve had a change of opinion. Everybody left-of-center was saying this was a conspiracy, no way it could have happened in the Wuhan lab. Now even Dr. Fauci is saying we should investigate it’
‘But the emails paint a disturbing picture, a disturbing picture of Dr. Fauci form the very beginning worrying that he had been funding gain of function research. And he knows it to this day but hasn’t admitted it.’
Paul claimed in the interview that ‘there is a lot of evidence’ that Fauci’s views on the Wuhan lab-leak theory were compromised by a ‘conflict of interest.’
‘If it turns out this virus came from the Wuhan lab, which it looks like it did, that there’s a great deal of culpability in that he was a big supporter of the funding,’ Paul said.
‘But he was also a big supporter to this day of saying that we can trust the Chinese on this, that we can trust Chinese scientists and I think that’s quite naïve and really should preclude him form the position that he’s in.
In June, Fauci dismissed revelations that he was warned at the start of pandemic that COVID-19 may have been ‘engineered’.
Fauci seemed to play down a mass trove of damaging emails which include warnings from the start of the pandemic that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
He said his emails are ‘ripe to be taken out of context’ but he ‘can’t guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab’