Stress levels throughout the nation are high this week, as a sudden, powerful surge in COVID-19 cases strains our mental, physical, and emotional health.
We’ve been at this horrid thing for nearly a year and a half, and things had just begun getting back to normal in several parts of the country beginning around the Fourth of July. Now, as the Delta variant continues to mutate and spread among the unvaccinated, tensions are running high again.
The drama of it all played out in Congress on Tuesday, as Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci got within just a couple decibels of having a shouting match in the Capitol.
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul began during the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions hearing Tuesday, reminding Fauci of his previous remarks to the committee on May 11th, during which the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director stated that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“And yet, gain-of-function research was done entirely in the Wuhan Institute … and was funded by the NIH,” Paul said, citing Wuhan Virology paper entitled, “Discovery of a Rich Gene Pool of Bat SARS-Related Coronaviruses.”
“In this paper … she credits the NIH and lists the actual number of the grant that she was given by the NIH,” Paul said. “In this paper, she took two bat coronavirus genes, spiked genes, and combined them with a SARS-related backbone to create new viruses that are not found in nature.”
Paul then asked Fauci if he’d like to retract those statements. It was at this point that the fireworks began.
“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 0f function — let me finish!” he said as Paul interjected.
“You take an animal virus and you increase this transmissibility to humans, you’re saying that’s not gain of function?” Paul asked.
“Yeah 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,” he said as Paul interjected again.
“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?” Paul asked.
“It is not,” Fauci said as Paul continued.
“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,” Paul added.
Video of the exchange demonstrates just how heated the two had gotten.
“Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about.”
— Dr. Fauci after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) accuses him of lying to Congress about gain-of-function research in Wuhan lab. pic.twitter.com/aGhn3ua9r0
— The Recount (@therecount) July 20, 2021
This isn’t the first time that Paul and Dr. Fauci have had a spat on the subject of COVID-19, and, if this latest wave of the virus continues to grow, it won’t be their last either.