A discussion between Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dr. Anthony Fauci on the roots of Covid-19 turned explosive Tuesday, with the senator and the government’s top infectious disease expert trading allegations of lying about whether federal money helped fuel a controversial form of virology research in China.
At a Senate hearing Tuesday, Paul pressed Fauci about a 2017 paper on coronaviruses written by Wuhan Institute of Virology staffers and indirectly funded by a federal grant from the Fauci-run National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Paul accused Fauci of lying to Congress about whether the paper relied on “gain-of-function” research, a controversial and sometimes ill-defined method in which researchers modify a virus to predict its evolutionary trajectory, suggesting this could offer clues into whether the coronavirus leaked from a virology lab in Wuhan.
Fauci angrily accused Paul of lying, and faulted the senator for implying that researchers may have created SARS CoV-2 in 2017. (Paul claimed he’s concerned that NIAID funded gain-of-function research—despite a three-year-long federal moratorium on it—but isn’t alleging the 2017 research was specifically tied to Covid-19.)