WASHINGTON, D.C. – While Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was being interviewed by Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures, he brought up an accusation that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, was responsible for funding human virus studies in Wuhan, China after they were banned in the United States.
“There’s a huge ethical question about the origins of the virus. The ethical question is should we be doing gain of function, should we be upgrading animal viruses in the lab to make them more susceptible to humans,” Senator Paul said. “We have to ask Dr. Fauci, why did he in overseeing these labs allowed gain of function? Why did he allow labs to get money to upgrade animal viruses so they can infect humans? We got worried about this around 2 or 3 years ago. We closed down about half of them but then Dr. Fauci and his committees opened them back up. We need to ask him why are we doing this in China but are we doing this in the U.S.?”
Paul was likely referring to articles published by the Times of Israel and The Daily Mail, which stated that Fauci, through the National Institute of Health (NIH), purportedly outsourced research in 2015 to the Wuhan lab and licensed the lab to continue receiving federal funding to conduct virus research – including bat coronavirus – after accidents at U.S. high-containment labs led to the Obama Administration banning funding for such activity in 2014. The ban was later lifted in 2017.
Fact-checkers claim that Fauci did not directly fund the Wuhan lab; instead, it is maintained that the NIH awarded a $3.4 million grant to the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance in 2014, which then hired the virology lab in Wuhan to conduct genetic analyses of bat coronavirus collected in the region. EcoHealth compensated the lab $598,500 over a five-year period of time, which was approved by both the U.S. State Department and the NIH.
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However, some of the conspiracy theories regarding the genesis of COVID-19 – such that it was specially man-made as a bioweapon, and that Fauci is directly tied to its creation – are baseless and without evidence.