Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) excoriated the mainstream media for being so friendly with Dr. Anthony Fauci and refusing to press him on issues, such as why the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) was funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Speaking Thursday on “Fox and Friends,” Paul reacted to a CBS clip from earlier in the day during which Fauci dismissed Paul’s recent questions regarding U.S. grant money that was siphoned off to Wuhan through the EcoHealth Alliance.
“You know, Gayle, I just don’t want to get into that tit-for-tat,” Fauci chuckled to “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King when she brought up Paul’s interrogation. “I just don’t understand what the problem is with him. I’m just going to do my job and he can do what he wants to do and we’ll see what happens.”
Asked for response, Paul replied, “If [Fauci] was being interviewed by a journalist, they would have asked, ‘Did the NIH, did your specific division of the NIH, give money to the Wuhan lab? That’s incontrovertibly true. What he’s arguing is he’s parsing his words. He knows his group gave money, but he’s saying, ‘Oh, it wasn’t for juicing up these superviruses. We gave it for other research.'”
Paul likened such reasoning to those who claim taxpayer money given to Planned Parenthood does not fund abortion.
Paul said that Dr. Shi Zhengli, a Wuhan-based virologist who researched coronaviruses in animals, wrote a paper that MIT scientists claimed was referencing gain-of-function research, which is a form of study that attempts to render pathogens more infectious and lethal.
“We have this in black and white from a peer-review journal, she said the funding came from Dr. Fauci’s NIAID, this is Dr. Fauci’s baby for 40 years, she lists him in the credits, he can’t escape this,” Paul said. “He did the funding.”
Paul also questioned why the U.S. is giving any money to China in the first place. “China is a rich country and they’re kicking our butt in so many places,” he said. “Why would we be giving them money for their research? Can’t they spend their own money on their own research?”
Explaining how he has been unsatisfied with Fauci’s answers, Paul said he has sent inquiries trying to dig deeper. “We’re asking specifically for some NIH papers and the conclusions because in those conclusions, we believe it will be unequivocal from a group of scientists that they will conclude that yes, the Wuhan Institute was making these super-viruses.”
A PolitiFact fact-check confirms that NIAID did award grant money to EcoHealth Alliance, which then hired the Wuhan virology lab to conduct genetic analyses of bat coronaviruses.
In 2014, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the part of the NIH headed by Fauci, awarded a $3.4 million grant to the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, which aims to protect people from viruses that jump from species to species.
The group hired the virology lab in Wuhan to conduct genetic analyses of bat coronaviruses collected in Yunnan province, about 800 miles southwest of Wuhan. EcoHealth Alliance paid the lab $598,500 over five years. The lab had secured approval from both the U.S. State Department and the NIH.
PolitiFact goes on to underscore that while NIAID funding the project is “not in a question,” claims that there is “no hard evidence” the grant “covered ‘gain of function’ research on a bat coronavirus, which ‘created’ SARS-CoV-2.” PolitiFact also notes that “Fauci has advocated for gain-of-function research in the past”:
Gain-of-function research is a controversial form of study that involves boosting the infectivity and lethality of a pathogen. Proponents of gain-of-function say it helps researchers spot potential threats to human health and allows them to figure out ways to tackle a new virus. Fauci has advocated for gain-of-function research in the past. In a 2011 article he co-wrote for the Washington Post, he promoted it as a means to study influenza viruses.
However, there’s no hard proof to support [WorldNetDaily’s] claims about gain-of-function research. The overwhelming consensus among public health experts is that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 evolved naturally.
After alleging that Fauci “is trying to evade that he funded” the Wuhan lab at all, Paul went on to say that Dr. Peter Daszak, who is president of the EcoHealth Alliance that paid the Wuhan lab $598,500 over five years, was also the one whom the World Health Organization (WHO) recruited to investigate whether the lab “was doing anything inappropriate.”
“Ultimately, here’s the rub,” Paul concluded. “I don’t know whether it came from the lab. Nobody knows whether it came from the lab. But who would be culpable? Dr. Fauci could be culpable for the entire pandemic. So could Dr. Daszak, and so could Dr. Shi. I’m not saying that happened; I don’t know. But you wouldn’t put the people who gave the money to the Wuhan lab in charge of the investigation.”
“It looks like a cover-up,” he added.
A March report by CNBC quotes Daszak as saying that the origins of the coronavirus will likely be known “within the next few years” and suggesting that it is likely “wildlife trade” (formatting adjusted):
“I’m convinced we are going to find out fairly soon,” Dr. Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO-led team and an animal disease specialist, said on Wednesday during a webinar hosted by think tank Chatham House. “Within the next few years, we are going to have real significant data on where this came from and how it emerged,” he added.
Daszak, who is also president of New York-based non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, said it should be possible for collective scientific data to accurately work out how animals with the coronavirus infected the first people in Wuhan, China in Dec. 2019. He said the wildlife trade was the most likely explanation of how Covid arrived in China, saying this hypothesis was “strongly supported” both from the WHO’s perspective and scientists in China.
“There was a conduit from Wuhan to the provinces in south China, where the closest relative viruses to (Covid) are found in bats,” Daszak said, describing this discovery as “a really important clue.” Daszak was one of three team members of the WHO-led team of international scientists who spoke during the webinar. He said a report outlining the initial conclusions of the recent month-long investigation could be released as soon as next week.