Republican Senator Rand Paul stated that he believes Dr Anthony Fauci should be sentenced to five years in prison for lying to Congress.
“Fauci should go to prison for five years for lying to Congress. They’ve prosecuted other people, they’ve selectively gone after Republicans, but in no way will they do anything about him lying,” he told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network.
Both Mr Paul and Mrs Bartiromo claimed that Dr Fauci lied about Congress. He referred to his claim that the National Institutes of Health didn’t fund “gain of functionality” research at Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Senator Fauci believes that a letter from the NIH principal deputydirector contradicted Mr Fauci’s claim and that the contradiction is a lie under oath.
Although Mr Paul and the other Republicans would like to paint the claim as Dr Fauci telling lies, the truth is complex and doesn’t support the assertion that the doctor deliberately misled Congress.
At a Senate hearing, Paul claimed that super viruses were created in the Wuhan laboratory and that experiments that created them had been paid for by the National Institutes of Health. Dr Fauci dismissed these claims as “entirely false and totally incorrect”.
According to the Washington Post a nongovernmental organization called EcoHealth Alliance received funding from NIH for research into whether bat-specific pathogens can jump to humans. The group did not report any finding that suggested an experiment had led to a spike of viral growth.
Gain of function research refers to a scientific method in which scientists trigger mutations and then study the effects on a subject. This practice is controversial, especially when it comes to deadly pathogens. Scientists have been less inclined to do research in certain circumstances over the years due to the associated risks.
Research has the advantage of allowing scientists to study possible mutation pathways that a virus might take. This gives them more time to find out how to treat or prevent it.
The scientific community is divided on what constitutes gain-of-function research and whether it is too risky to pursue.
Regarding the NIH letter mentioned by Mr Paul it is unclear whether EcoHealth’s research on gain of function was actually gained from such experiments. In addition, the letter does not indicate that the NIH funded any research that resulted in gain of function. This is contrary to claims made by Mr Paul and other Republican lawmakers.
EcoHealth received a grant from the NIH for its research. However, it does not indicate any intent on the part of the NGO or NIH to produce a dangerous or other enhanced pathogen.
Dr Lawrence A Tabak was the principal deputy director of the NIH. He wrote that this was an unexpected outcome of the research and not something the researchers had set out to do.
He said that the viruses studied under the grant were genetically very distant from SARSCoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. This admission suggests that the 2019 coronavirus produced by the lab’s researchers was not what they had expected.
Despite the fact the NIH letter didn’t say that it funded gain-of-function research, Senator Tom Cotton and other Republican lawmakers insist that the letter acknowledges that the agency funded those experiments.
“While the letter does not use the phrase ‘gain of function’ to avoid the obvious political consequences, it describes work that matches the commonly accepted definition of ‘gain-of-function’ research, as confirmed by members of the scientific community,” Mr Cotton’s spokesman told The Washington Post. “Senator Cotton said the NIH admitted funding gain-of-function research because the NIH did in fact fund gain-of-function research, whether the letter used that phrase or not.”
Further defending his stance, Mr Paul said that Dr Fauci lied despite NIH letters and should be removed.
“But he should be prosecuted for lying, but at the very least he should be taken out of his position because I think he cost people’s lives through misinformation,” Mr Paul said.
The senator chastising someone for spreading misinformation is particularly ironic, considering Mr Paul himself has numerous times undermined coronavirus mitigation efforts and spread factually incorrect information about the virus.
Last month, Mr Paul claimed that masks “don’t work,” citing, and twisting, the results of a study from Denmark, which actually showed that mask usage helped to mitigate the spread of the virus.
He suggested that the researchers weren’t willing to study the effects Ivermectin (a dewormer for livestock and humans) because they were “hatredful” of Donald Trump. Later, he retracted his statement and acknowledged that such studies were being done.
He also claimed that natural immunity to Covid-19, which is acquired by becoming infected with the virus and then surviving it, was superior to the coronavirus vaccines. There was no such study to support his claims, and recent research suggests that natural immunity could wear out over time, making those infected and survivors more susceptible to new infections.