Paul has been a fierce critic of Fauci, blaming him for falsely denying that the Government has funded "gain-of-function" research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where Paul thinks COVID-19 started. Fauci has denied this and proceeded to do so in no uncertain terms.
"Dr. Fauci, I don't expect you today to admit that you approved of NIH funding for a gain of function research in Wuhan, but your repeated denials have worn thin," Paul told Fauci as a precursor to his questioning, stating that the National Institutes of Health confirmed that it funded a grant to EcoHealth Alliance with a sub-award to the Wuhan lab. Paul said that as part of this work, he engaged in experiments in Wuhan that led to the creation of viruses that did not simply happen in nature and increased in deadliness.
"The facts are clear. The NIH did find gain of function research in Wuhan despite your protestations," Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, went on, explaining that Fauci's "persistent denials … are not simply a stain on your reputation but are clear and present danger to the country and to the world."
Fauci has claimed that the viruses examined at Wuhan that the NIH funded "could not possibly have turned into SARS-CoV-2." Paul said the research in Wuhan "could cause a pandemic even worse the next time." He alleged that COVID-19 could have been created from a virus that Chinese officials have not disclosed.
"Will you today finally take some responsibility for funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan?" Paul asked.
"Senator, with all due respect, I disagree with so many of the things that you've said," Fauci said to begin his response. He proceeded to say that "gain-of-function" is "a very nebulous term" that outside parties have worked on assigning "a more precise definition."
Up until recently, the NIH website had a section that discussed gain-of-function research, giving a broad definition of "a type of research that modifies a biological agent so that it confers new or enhanced activity to that agent."
On Oct. 20, the NIH removed that section from its website, substituting it with one that discusses "enhanced potential pandemic pathogen" research, which is defined as "research that may be reasonably anticipated to create, transfer or use potential pandemic pathogens resulting from the enhancement of a pathogen's transmissibility and/or virulence in humans."