Sen. Paul leads hearing on origins of COVID, gain-of-function research

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., pauses during A hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, FIle)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., pauses during A hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, FIle)

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UPDATED 11:21 AM PT – Thursday, August 4, 2022

Republican senators zeroed in on the government’s involvement in the creation of the coronavirus. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led the first-ever Senate hearing focused on gain-of-function research and the origins of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Paul and GOP Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) pressed three scientists on the role the US government had in research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In his opening statement, Dr. Richard Ebright defined gain-of-function research as the modification of pathogens to increase their transmissibility and effectiveness against human immune systems and treatments. During multiple exchanges with Sen. Paul, NIH Director Anthony Fauci vehemently denied his agency had funded such projects. However, Ebright alleged in a written statement that Fauci lied to Paul, the press and the American public.

Sen. Marshall dug up past statements made by Fauci, touching on the research he was involved with in an almost prophetic way.

“Again is 2012, Dr. Fauci also said almost prophetically that he was worried about unregulated laboratories, perhaps outside of the United States, doing work unlawfully and leading to an inadvertent pandemic,” stated the Republican. “And he went on to say the accidental release is what the world is really worried about.”

The Kansas lawmaker further outlined Fauci’s problematic past with gain-of-function research in the Obama administration and beyond. Despite moratoriums, Marshall alleged the NIH continued to funnel funds towards the controversial research without reporting it to the proper subcommittee for approval.

“Nevertheless, clearly the US government and Dr. Fauci knew that the viral gain-of-function research was very concerning,” he noted. “And almost counterintuitively, while Dr. Fauci encouraged US scientist to pause their GOF studies, Dr. Fauci offshored the paused research to China. Not once but twice.”

Paul quoted previous statements made by Ebright, alleging unreviewed funds were distributed for gain-of-function research in Wuhan between 2016 and 2018. Despite the report, so-called experts avoided classifying the creation of COVID chimeras.

Ebright cited the NIH’s delayed revealing of eco-health experiments with a bat coronavirus in the Wuhan lab. Yet, Fauci tried to discredit the lab leak theory entirely by collaborating with NIH colleague Francis Collins to release the Lancet letter.

“One of the efforts was the Lancet letter you discussed,” said Ebright. “The other effort was coordinated and orchestrated effort through the National Institute of Health, through the director Dr. Fauic and NIH Director Dr. Collin, and resulted in the publication of an opinion article entitled ‘Proximal Origins of SARS-CoV-2,’ making the case, again, that SARS-CoV-2 could not have been a product of research related spill over.”

Paul closed out the hearing by declaring that no matter the origin of COVID, the risks of such projects far outweigh the benefits for the human race. This comes after Sen. Paul proposed an amendment to the CHIPS Act that would ban taxpayer dollars from funding gain-of-function research in China.

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Amber Coakley
Author: Amber Coakley

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