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Rand Paul v Anthony Fauci: Gain-of-Function Research

Rand Paul v Anthony Fauci: US Senate 11th May 2021

US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Hearing: An Update from Federal Officials on Efforts to Combat COVID-19

Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical advisor to the US President. Testimony before US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Questioned by Senator Rand Paul, M.D., representing the people of Kentucky

Rand Paul: “Doctor Fauci, we don't know whether the pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan, or evolved naturally, but we should want to know. Three million people have died from this pandemic, and that should cause us to explore all possibilities. Instead: government authorities, self-interested in continuing gain-of-function research¹, say there's nothing to see here. Gain-of-function research, as you know, is juicing-up naturally occurring animal viruses to infect humans. To arrive at the truth, the US Government should admit that the Wuhan Virology Institute was experimenting to enhance the coronavirus's ability to infect humans. Juicing-up super viruses is not new. Scientists in the US have long known how to mutate animal viruses to infect humans. For years, Doctor Ralph Baric, a virologist in the US, has been collaborating with Doctor Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Virology Institute, sharing his discoveries about how to create super viruses. This gain-of-function research has been funded by the NIH². The collaboration between the US and the Wuhan Virology Institute continues. Doctors Baric and Shi worked together to insert bat virus spike protein into the backbone of the deadly SARS virus, and then used this man-made super virus to infect human airway cells³. Think about that for a moment. The SARS virus had a 15% mortality. We're fighting a pandemic that has about a 1% mortality. Can you imagine if a SARS virus that's been juiced-up and had viral proteins added to it, to the spike protein, if that were released accidentally? Doctor Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan⁴?”

Anthony Fauci: “Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entire... entirely and completely incorrect. That the
NIH, has not ever, and does not now, fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute... of Virology⁵...”

Rand Paul: “Do they fund
Doctor Baric?”

Anthony Fauci: “We do not fund...”

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Rand Paul: “Do you fund Doctor Baric’s gain-of-function research?”

Anthony Fauci: “Doctor Baric does not doing gain-of-function research. And if it is, it's according to the guidelines, and it is being conducted in North Carolina. And not... in China...”

Rand Paul: “You don’t think that
inserting a bat virus spike protein, that he got from the Wuhan Institute into the SARS virus³ is gain-of-function?

Anthony Fauci: ”That is not...”

Rand Paul: “You would be in the minority, because at least 200 scientists have signed a statement from the Cambridge Working Group, saying that it is gain-of-function.”

Anthony Fauci: ”Yeah... Well, it is not. And if you
look at the grant, and you look at the progress reports, it is not gain-of-function. Despite the fact that people tweet that... and write about it...”

From R01AI110964 Project Summary: 3. Test predictions of CoV inter-species transmission. Predictive models of host range (i.e. emergence potential) will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments across a range of cell cultures from different species and humanized mice

Quoted from National Institutes of Health Notice of Award Issue Date: 05/27/2014 NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES Grant Number: 1RO1AI110964-01 FAIN: R01AI110964

Rand Paul: “So do you still support sending money to the Wuhan Virology Institute?”

Anthony Fauci: We do not send money now to the Wuhan... er... Virology...”

Rand Paul: “Do you support sending money? We did, under your tutelage. We were sending it through
EcoHealth. It was a sub-agency, and a sub-grant. Do you support that the money from NIH that was going to the Wuhan Institute?”

Anthony Fauci: ”Let me explain to you,
why that was done... The SARS-CoV-1 originated in bats in China. It would have been irresponsible of us if we did not investigate the bat viruses and the serology to see who might have been infected... in China...”

Rand Paul: “Or, perhaps it would have been possible to send it to the Chinese government, that we may not be able to trust, with this... uh... knowledge and with this... uh... incredibly dangerous viruses.
Government scientists like yourself, who favor gain-of-function research...”

Anthony Fauci: ”I don’t favor
gain-of-function research in China! You are saying things that are not correct!”

Rand Paul: “Government defenders of gain-of-function, such as yourself, say that COVID-19, er, mutations were random, and not designed by man. But interestingly, the technique that Doctor Baric developed, forces mutations by serial passage through cell culture. That the mutations appear to be natural. In fact, Doctor Baric named the technique: the no-see-um technique, because the mutations appear naturally... Nicholas Baker in the New York Magazine said: nobody would know if the virus had been fabricated in a laboratory or grown in nature. Government authorities in the US, including yourself, unequivocally deny that COVID-19 could have escaped a lab. But even Doctor Shi in Wuhan, wasn't so sure. According to Nicholas Baker, Doctor Shi wondered: could this new virus have come from her own laboratory? She checked her records frantically and found no matches. That really took a load off my mind, she said. I had not slept for days. The director of the gain-of-function research in Wuhan couldn't sleep because she was terrified that it might be in her lab... Doctor Baric, an advocate of gain-of-function research, admits: the main problem that the Institute of Virology has is the outbreak occurred in close proximity. What are the odds? Baric responded: could you rule out a laboratory escape? The answer in this case is probably not... Will you, in front of this group, categorically say that the COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage in a laboratory?”

Anthony Fauci: “I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done. And I'm fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China. However, I will repeat again! The
NIH and NIAID categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

Rand Paul: “But you do support it in the US. We have 11 labs doing it, and you have allowed it here. We have a committee to do it. But, the committee is granted every exemption. You're fooling with mother nature here. You're allowing super viruses to be created with a 15% mortality. It's very dangerous. I think it was a huge mistake to share this with China. And it's a huge mistake to allow this to continue in the United States. And, we should be very careful to investigate where this virus came from.”

Anthony Fauci: ”I fully agree that you should investigate where the virus came from... But, again:
we have not funded gain-of-function research on this virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. No matter how many times you say it, it didn’t happen...”

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Rand Paul: ”You’re parsing words... You’re parsing words... There was research done. There was research done with Doctor Shi and Doctor Baric.  They have collaborated on gain-of-function research, where they enhance the SARS virus to infect human airway cells. And they did it by merging a new spike protein on it³. That is gain-of-function. That was joint research between the Wuhan Institute and Doctor Baric. You can't deny it.”

Chairwoman: “Senator Paul, your time time has expired... Dr Fauci, I will let you respond to that, but we need to move on.”

Anthony Fauci: ”Excuse me?”

Chairwoman: “I will allow you to respond to that, and then we'll move on.”

Anthony Fauci: ”Yeah, I mean... I just wanted to say: we... I don't know how many times I can say it, Madam Chair,
we did not fund gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

References:                        >>> UPDATING <<<

  1. NIH > Gain-of-Function Research Involving Potential Pandemic Pathogens
  2. MIT Technology Review > Inside the risky bat-virus engineering that links America to Wuhan
  3. Nature > A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence
  4. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services > Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System > Understanding The Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence - Award Number: R01AI110964 - Organization: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Recipient: EcoHealth Alliance
  5. Letter from National Institutes of Health Deputy Director for Extramural Research to EcoHealth Alliance Re: NIH Grant R01AI110964
  6. University of North Carolina > School of Medicine > Department of Microbiology and Immunology > Directory > Ralph Baric, PhD
  7. ProPublica > Here Are Six Accidents UNC Researchers Had With Lab-Created Coronaviruses
  8. Cambridge Working Group Consensus Statement on the Creation of Potential Pandemic Pathogens (PPPs)
  9. NIH > Project Details > Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence - Project Number 1R01AI110964-01
  10. NIH > Project Details > Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence - Project Number 2R01AI110964-06
  11. NIH > Reporter > Search Results: Project R01AI110964
  12. NIH > Project Details > Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence - Project Number 5R01AI110964-02
  13. American Society for Microbiology > ASM Journals > mBio > Research on Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Influenza Virus: The Way Forward
  14. NIH > Project Details > Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence - Project Number 5R01AI110964-03
  15. ResearchGate > Development of mouse hepatitis virus and SARS-CoV infectious cDNA constructs
  16. New York Magazine > Investigations > The Lab-Leak Hypothesis
  17. Chinese Academy of Sciences > Wuhan Institute Of Virology > Our Team > Zhengli Shi
  18. NIH > Project Details > Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence - Project Number 5R01AI110964-04
  19. NIH > Project Details > Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence - Project Number 5R01AI110964-05

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