Rand Paul hosted Wednesday’s first congressional hearing on gain-of-function research and oversight. Five Republican Senators attended the Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, but there were no Democrats.
This hearing follows the Senate’s attempt to pass an amendment that would have stopped all US funding for gain-of-function research in China. Despite having been supported in previous versions of the legislative package relating to domestic semiconductor manufacturing, Paul’s amendment was blocked by Democrats.
Gain-of-function (GOF), is research that reduces the pathogen’s ability to cause disease. Paul was critical of the funding of this research at a Wuhan laboratory in China by the National Institute of Health. This research was done before the coronavirus pandemic.
I maintain that the techniques that the NIH funded in Wuhan to create enhanced pathogens may also have been used to create COVID-19. The American people deserve to know how this pandemic started, and to know if the NIH funded research that may have caused this pandemic.
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 3, 2022
The Director of NIAID at the NIH, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, denied that research in Wuhan was GOF research. When Paul asked about the matter in 2021, Fauci first denied that any NIH research was funded in Wuhan. However, the NIH funded GOH research in Wuhan and coronavirus research there.
The World Health Organization (WHO), after having downplayed the possibility last year, issued a recommendation in June that further investigation is undertaken into the theory that COVID-19 was a Chinese “lab leak”.
Obama declared a moratorium in 2014 on GOF research. However, NIH projects were continued despite the ban and HHS requests to halt activity. In 2017, President Donald Trump lifted this moratorium and created an oversight board within HHS called Proposed Research Involving Enhanced Pandemic Pathogens (P3CO).
The subcommittee hearing highlighted issues with the P3CO framework. GOP Senators and testifying scientists agreed that the definition used for GOF research was too narrow to adequately oversee research proposals. This is how Fauci was able to deny that we receive taxpayer funds for research he has not funded.
Another topic was the non-disclosure of P3CO members, which raises ethical questions about possible conflicts of interest… and what the committee does or when. We don’t know the identities of these people, nor does Congress.
Paul spoke on Fox News’ “Jesse Watters Primetime”, Wednesday after the hearing.
Today’s scientists also revealed that the committee responsible for reviewing these viruses is secret. The names are not known. We don’t know if they have ever met, nor do we have records of their meetings. It’s top-secret. Congress is forbidden from knowing. We don’t know if the committee exists. We know they have met three times, and that there are many gain-of-function research proposals. They have only met three times and only reviewed three projects. We learned a lot, but I believe we confirmed that Dr. Fauci was not being truthful with us. Yes, gain-of-function research was funded by the NIH. It was risky. Yes, it was dangerous.
Paul continued to criticize Fauci’s dishonesty and urged more scientific oversight of research that was deemed “dangerous” by experts who testified.
We learned that Dr. Fauci has been lying to us. The three scientists agreed that this was dangerous research. Two of the three absolutely said it was gain-of-function. The third said it was dangerous research and should have gone before a committee. When Dr. Fauci said, “Oh, we’ve reviewed this and the experts have looked at this, and said it’s not gain-of-function,” even that wasn’t true.
Paul said that he was disappointed by the absence of Democrats’ participation during the hearing and that he looks forward to introducing a bipartisan bill for GOF oversight, funding, research, and monitoring.