GOP senators grill Fauci on Wuhan lab funding, origins of COVID

Republican senators grilled Dr. Anthony Fauci about grant funding supplied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of Covid-19 throughout a Senate Appropriations Committee listening to on Wednesday — as stress mounts for him to be fired over his shifting positions on the problems.

Fauci has come under fire from main Republicans, who’ve blasted the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for his litany of shifting stances on the best way to fight the coronavirus, its origin and an investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology — with some calling for his resignation. 

During Wednesday’s listening to, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) raised questions on whether or not the funding supplied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was used for its meant functions and never for acquire of operate analysis, which Fauci has beforehand described as “taking a virus that could infect humans and making it either more transmissible and/or pathogenic for humans.”

Fauci confirmed that $600,000 in grant funding for use over the course of 5 years was supplied to check whether or not bat coronaviruses might be transmitted to people, including that he believes the funding was correctly used, however can’t 100% affirm it was utilized for its meant function. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn’t consider the funding was misused.
Stefani Reynolds/Pool/REUTERS

“You have no way of knowing whether they did or not, except you trust them. Is that right?” Kennedy requested, urgent on whether or not he may assure that the grantee has not lied to him.

Fauci asserted that he believes the funding was not misused after reviewing the analysis produced by the scientists overseas, however “cannot guarantee that a grantee has not lied to us because you never know.” 

“They’re very competent, trustworthy scientists, I’m not talking about anything else in China, I’m talking about the scientists that you would expect that they would abide by the conditions of the grant, which they’ve done for the years that we’ve had interactions,” he mentioned. 

A security official moves journalists away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology after a World Health Organization team arrived for a field visit on Feb. 3, 2021.
A safety official strikes journalists away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology after a World Health Organization group arrived for a area go to on Feb. 3, 2021.
Ng Han Guan/AP

Kennedy went on to lift issues in regards to the Chinese Communist Party’s degree of affect over the World Health Organization, to which Fauci responded saying he has confidence within the WHO’s independence.

“My interaction with the who and for Dr. Tedros the Director General has been one thing that I do believe he’s a person of a high degree of integrity,” he mentioned. 

Republicans have additionally been extremely crucial of Fauci following his current remarks that it’s attainable Covid-19 may have originated out of a lab, after GOP lawmakers got here underneath fireplace final 12 months for repeatedly elevating the likelihood. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) questioned the timeline through which it could be decided the virus got here from a lab if an intermediate host just isn’t discovered, and who ought to be main that investigation. 

Fauci mentioned that it’s arduous to supply a timeline since they nonetheless haven’t discovered the intermediate host for Ebola, which they’re assured didn’t originate from a lab, including that he would love the WHO proceed its probe. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Fauci in regards to the grant funding to the Wuhan lab.
Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AP

“[T]he WHO did what they’re referring to now as phase one of an investigation, which they felt was not completely adequate. As you know, you’ve heard me and Dr. Collins and others in the administration calling for a continuation of the investigation,” Fauci mentioned. 

And Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) raised issues about China’s “history of lab accident,” including that the “outbreak happened in a city that happened to be the home, coincidentally of a lab which we know is involved in extensive research and what they do is they take this naturally occurring virus, and they manipulate it, and they change it to make it infectious to human.”

The Florida Republican questioned why Fauci previously tamped down hypothesis the virus may have been artificially manufactured. 

“I have always said that the high likelihood is that this is a natural occurrence. I didn’t dismiss anything I just said it’s a high likelihood that this is a natural occurrence, from the environment of an animal reservoir that we have not yet identified,” he mentioned. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) requested Fauci why he had tamped down hypothesis the virus may have been artificially manufactured up to now.
Stefani Reynolds/Pool/REUTERS

“Well, I still maintain that but as I just mentioned to the response to other questions that since you don’t know 100 percent about that because no one knows, including me, 100 percent what the origin is is the reason why we’re in favor of further investigation.”

In May, 2020, Dr. Fauci mentioned “the scientific evidence is very, very strongly leaning toward” the virus having advanced in nature, including that he doesn’t consider it got here from a lab.

“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” Fauci told National Geographic in an interview on the time.

He added that he doesn’t consider “an alternate theory — that someone found the coronavirus in the wild, brought it to a lab, and then it accidentally escaped.”

“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” the physician mentioned on the time.

Graham mentioned whether it is discovered that the lethal virus did originate within the Wuhan Institute of Virology, he feels it’s crucial there be vital penalties. 

“I think we should send a clear signal to China, it seems to be a source of a lot of pandemics, that if this did occur in the lab, expect something to happen, because if we don’t, we’re just going to reinforce this in the future,” he mentioned.  “And what that something is I’m open minded to, but I’m closed minded to the idea of doing nothing.”

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