Despite repeated denials by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci that his agency used American taxpayer money to fund Chinese gain-of-function research on bats infected with coronaviruses, the National Institutes of Health – which oversees NIAID – admitted in a letter to House Oversight Committee ranking member James Comer, R-Ky., that a "limited experiment" was indeed conducted.
Comer's fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Rand Paul, joined "Fox News Primetime" to react to the bombshell, as well as further reflect on his often-viral sparring with Fauci during Senate hearings on the matter.
Earlier this year, Paul accused Fauci of "obfuscating the truth" and at one point asked if he wished to rescind prior remarks given that it is a felony to lie to Congress.
The Brooklyn-born doctor responded that "if anyone is lying, it is you."
Paul told host Will Cain the story should not be about him, but about America's health and national security:
"Five million people died from a virus that came out of a lab -- wouldn’t we want to know, wouldn’t we want to prevent this from happening again? This virus is very deadly, what if we had a virus that had a 15% mortality rate?"
Paul, a doctor of ophthalmology, said China is already experimenting with a variation of the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus of the early 2000s – noting that its predecessor had a 1 in 2 mortality rate.
"They still to this day are trying to get around the truth," Paul said. "They say ‘well it was unexpected that it gained function’."
The senator noted that Fauci previously claimed a virus outbreak could be worth the scientific value of the preceding experiments:
"In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic? Many ask reasonable questions: given the possibility of such a scenario – however remote – should the initial experiments have been performed and/or published in the first place, and what were the processes involved in this decision?," Fauci said back in 2012.
"Scientists working in this field might say – as indeed I have said – that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks," he continued, according to the New York Post.
Paul said Fauci has been intentionally "never fully explain[ing] why [the experiments] are not gain-of-function. His declination is this: it’s inadvertent, we didn’t know they were going to gain function. That is what a gain-of-function experiment is. You don’t know when you combine two viruses that they will be more deadly but it might be if you have half a brain you know if you combine two viruses it might be more deadly."
"He's been parsing words."
Cain replied that another major issue is that much of the public believes Fauci's "words are Gospel" and that he is infallible.
Paul said he and other lawmakers have already referred Fauci to the Justice Department for investigation – but noted that he is not expecting much given the inordinate resources being allocated by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to "go after moms complaining about what they are teaching in school."
"I don’t know if they have time to go after Dr. Fauci for lying. He should be held accountable because what we have developed as a system of health care in our country where doctors are afraid to speak out because they will cut out their research funding, doctors who have talked about innovative treatment to try to help people survive COVID are being lectured and told we will take your license. This is the kind of thing, this top-down centralization of medical authority, it’s not good for our country and it’s not good for innovation."
Paul said he fears that an apolitical doctor will stumble across a life-saving treatment to another disease or virus – but instead discard or not publicize his work for fear of retribution from the medical establishment and people like Fauci, whose office allocates millions of dollars in grant monies.