Dr. Anthony Fauci should be "made to testify under oath" about whether money from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was used to finance gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday.
“The bottom line is he cannot investigate himself," the Kentucky Republican, who often squares off against Fauci, the White House chief medical advisor and institute director, said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "He was responsible for giving this money, so he has every incentive to cover it up and not reveal the truth about it."
If it turns out the COVID-19 pandemic came from the Wuhan lab, Fauci "would have great culpability, so he can’t be investigating this, nor can any of his people that he picks be investigating this. He needs to be excluded from the investigation."
Paul's comments come after Fauci told a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday that the National Institutes of Health had earmarked $600,000 to the Chinese institute over a five-year period to study whether bat coronaviruses could be transmitted to humans, reports The New York Post.
However, the money, sent to Wuhan through the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance was to be used as a "modest collaboration" with the Chinese experts, not to be used for gain of function research, Fauci told lawmakers.
Such research takes a virus that can infect humans and makes it "either more transmissible and/or pathogenic for humans," said the doctor, but he insisted "that categorically was not done."
Meanwhile, Paul warned Wednesday that the lab in Wuhan is "experimenting with the SARS virus, which is 15 times more deadly than COVID-19."
"The good news is yesterday I passed an amendment on the Senate floor that says no more gain of function money can be sent to China," Paul said."This is very important because this could happen again."
COVID-19, he added, kills "1% — that’s been 3 million people, more than 3 million people. If SARS got out of the lab, that could be 50 million people. So, this is a very important task ahead of us. We have 11 labs in our country that do this kind of research.”
Paul's comments also come after reports that the Biden administration stopped a State Department investigation launched late last year under then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo into whether the coronavirus had originated in the Wuhan lab.
The inquiry was halted over concerns about the quality of its work, sources told CNN.
CNN said the inquiry was begun by Pompeo's allies and was run through the State Department's arms control and verification bureau, in part to determine if China's biological weapons program may have played a large role in the origins of the pandemic.
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