Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul knocked the news media’s failure to press National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci about a controversial grant the NIAID paid to a group called EcoHealth Alliance, which used a sizeable portion of the $3.4 million grant to fund coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WiV).
The story: In an appearance on “Fox and Friends” on Thursday, Paul was asked to respond to Fauci dismissing the congressman’s questions about the grant during a Senate hearing this week.
Soon after the hearing, Fauci appeared on CBS News with Gayle King, who asked him about Paul’s questioning.
“You know, Gayle, I just don’t want to get into that tit-for-tat,” Fauci told King. “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.”
At the hearing, Paul pressed Fauci about a $3.4 million grant the NIAID provided to EcoHealthAlliance to sponsor viral research at the WIV — a form of research that includes experimentation and artificial enhancement of viruses to make them more infectious.
Fauci categorically denied that the NIH funded such research, although he later acknowledged the grant, which he insisted was not used for gain of function research.
“Let me explain to you why that was done,” Fauci said. “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.”
Paul said on Fox News that Fauci was trying to frame gain of function research as something else and panned King for not asking the right questions.
“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.’”
He added: “It’s sort of like the Planned Parenthood argument, ‘Yes we give taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, but it’s not for abortion.’”
“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?”
Paul cited a peer-reviewed paper by a Chinese virologist named Dr. Shi Zhengli, who researched coronaviruses at the WIV and confirmed Fauci’s NIAID provided the grant.
“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 said top scientists around the world who reviewed the paper had agreed it was gain of function research.
A PolitiFact review of claims the U.S. funded gain of function research in China ruled such claims as “false.”
However, the fact-check does acknowledge the NIAID “awarded a $3.4 million grant to the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance,” and the “false” rating was eventually given because there is so far no evidence that that research is tied to the creation of Covid-19.
EcoHealth Alliance “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 PolitiFact article said.
“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.
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