Republican Sen. John Kennedy pressed CDC Director Rochelle Walensky throughout a Senate listening to Wednesday to observe up on a tense exchange last week between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul on funding for so-called “gain of function” research within the Chinese lab on the heart of COVID-19’s origins.
Kennedy questioned Walensky about whether or not the US supplied funding to the Wuhan lab for the controversial research, which focuses on making a virus stronger within the laboratory as a method to produce higher vaccines in opposition to it.
“Not to my knowledge,” she stated, including that Fauci could be greatest to reply that query.
“Fauci seems confused,” Kennedy responded.
“I’m asking, with all due respect, I’m asking you to give us that information: Where throughout the world, including, but not limited to the United States of America, are we doing research on these viruses to make them contagious in order to study them, that’s what I mean by ‘gain of function,’” Kennedy stated.
Walensky stated she would have her workers look into it.
“You’re the head of the CDC, I bet you get your phone calls returned,” he retorted.
The Louisiana Republican additionally pressed Walensky to elucidate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines launched final week that has brought about confusion about when masks are nonetheless required in sure conditions.
He requested why, for instance, he doesn’t should put on a masks within the Senate as a result of he’s vaccinated for coronavirus however should nonetheless put on one if he walks throughout the Capitol to the House of Representatives.
“Based on CDC recommendations, if I walk over to the House are you recommending I wear a mask,” he requested Walensky.
“We have really encouraged that the policies of mask wearing be locally driven, and the reason for that is because every community, every county has different rates of disease and different rates of vaccination,” she stated.
“What’s different about the House?” he requested.
Walensky responded that she didn’t know the speed of vaccination for members of Congress off the “top of my head.”
A gaggle of House Republicans ditched their masks on Tuesday to protest House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s persevering with the masks mandate regardless of the CDC’s up to date tips that vaccinated individuals don’t have to put on masks inside in most conditions.
At the identical time, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Republican Doctors Caucus are planning to introduce a decision to make sure the House’s masks insurance policies replicate the CDC’s tips.
Kennedy then requested Walensky in regards to the masks coverage on airplanes.
“There’s very little choice when you board an airplane as to who you will be sitting next to you, who’s around you, and also airplanes may be a place where we have more variants because of the travel from international places,” she stated.
Kennedy then directed his questioning in regards to the origination of the coronavirus that was first reported in December 2019 within the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan.
“I don’t believe I’ve seen enough data, individual data, for me to be able to comment on that,” Walensky replied.
Kennedy requested her to weigh in on the chances.
Walensky stated most infectious coronaviruses — like SARS, MERS — are transferred from animal to human, however acknowledged that it may be developed in a lab.