In this video, Rand Paul is arguing that the NIH funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan. Fauci denies it, but mostly blusters and attacks a strawman (within the context of this video).
Paul says (summarizing), “NIH was not to fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan. Here’s your definition of gain-of-function. Here’s what the report says was done there. By this definition what was done is gain-of-function, and thus prohibited.”
From his quotations, it sure sounds like he’s right. Fauci doesn’t address this at all, except by saying, “experts determined it to not be gain-of-function”. This is a singularly unhelpful response.
Is Rand Paul wrong in his argument, and if so, how?
For someone with a medical degree, Rand Paul’s positions on Covid have been consistently wrong for the last 18 months. He disagrees with virtually every competent scientist on transmissibility, morbidity, and mortality of C19. I don’t believe he understands what GoF actually means.
The NIH grant money went to the Wuhan lab indirectly, as a subcontractor. The experimental work was reviewed several years ago and found not to meet the definition of gain-of-function research, i.e. it was not aimed at making the virus(es) under study more transmissible or pathogenic in humans (there is some disagreement in the scientific community over whether changes to permit replication in cell lines is truly gain-of-function research).
The Washington Post, in giving Paul et al two Pinocchios for their claims on this matter, notes that the grant money was paid out for collection of samples by the Wuhan lab - not specifically to support the cell line research.
More on the controversy here:
I have considerably more trust in Dr. Fauci than in Rand Paul, who managed to get sick with Covid-19 early on (he has disdained mask-wearing and other precautions) and has been notably hostile to effective public health measures such as vaccination.
Give Rand credit for one trenchant observation though:
“WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Sharing helpful health tips with the American people, Senator Rand Paul said on Wednesday that the secret to social distancing is making everyone despise you.”
“People get all worried about whether other people are staying six feet away from them,” Paul said. “The trick is, if you act like a total jerkwad, people will stay much farther away from you than that.”*
So, after some reading on the links (thank you) it seems that that dividing line between GoF research and not GoF research is fuzzy. Viruses might “gain functions” as a part of the research, but not intentionally. There’s disagreement if that counts.
There was a pause in funding for GoF, but the definition of what was to be not funded is fuzzy.
Also, the funding in question (about $600,000 - small change in this sort of work) was indirect, and covered collection of viruses. There was research done on those viruses after the fact, which was reviewed in the US and determined to be NOT GoF. But it might have been, depending on whose definitions you use and whether you believe the Wuhan scientists.
I’m just asking because if we had a moratorium on funding GoF and then we did fund GoF, that’s bad. But it’s so linked to “did COVID come from that lab?” that it’s hard to find the answers to that smaller, admittedly less important, question.
Rand Paul would get himself banned if he was a poster here. He’s not convincing anyone. Anyone out there who thinks Fauci is a villain did not need today’s performance to be swayed. Rand Paul reminds me of those 9/11 truthers who come in with their britches on fire posting up a storm about that one perfect fact that is going to convince us that the whole thing was a setup! They never have anything further to offer when they get a shrug in response.
Rand Paul used the term “gain-of-function” but offered no proof as to the experiments. He mentioned that the Wuhan lab made chimera viruses between SARS and, I guess, the bat coronavirus to make a highly transmissible virus. There is no molecular basis for this. The spike protein of SARS is only distantly related to SARS-CoV-2 even though they both bind ACE2 receptors. Even if this were true, there’s no evidence that the Wuhan lab did this. He just used a scary word like “chimera” and combined it with “gain-of-function”.
Fauci was right when he said Paul didn’t know what he was talking about. And the chimera thing is an outright lie.
On the contrary, that seems like the most pertinent fact that Fauci could have brought up. Are we supposed to take Sen. Paul’s determination of what constitutes gain-of-function over those of experts who have made this their life’s work?
Many countries were funding research in Wuhan, was it a US dollar or Australian dollar, a Euro or a Yuan that “potentially” caused the pandemic , who can say. Let’s assume it escaped from a lab, could anyone believe this is what Fauci or the Chinese wanted.
I think you might be right about this. Sen. Paul’s chain of references and reasoning was nowhere near as solid as it sounded when I just watched the video once, especially after now having read about the difficulties defining gain-of-function. Fauci’s answer makes a lot more sense with that background.
Rand Paul does a rhetorical sleight of hand – he says that the Wuhan lab was doing GoF research (which would be bad, if true, but it’s apparently not true) and also blames the lab for the virus that killed 4 million people. But, if you listen closely, he says that no one is saying the GoF research is what created this deadly virus. They are two unrelated charges that he’s smashing together.
Right, indeed he concedes several times that the covid virus wasn’t artificially created (by what he’s replying to in context, I mean), yet still wants to get in that nonsense about, essentially, the blood of 4 million people being on Fauci’s hands.
It makes no sense, is offensive to someone who is working hard to try to save lives, and just serves to remind us all how much of a scumbag Rand Paul is.
Also all this is a red herring. Whether or not Wuhan was doing gain of function research and whether or not part of it was funded by US dollars, none of that led to the Covid-19 virus.
Although there is some scientists who still consider the escape from lab hypothesis for the origin or COVID to be worth consideration (although that may be waning), they all agree that the virus was NOT genetically engineered since it lacks any of the telltale signs that manipulation with CRISPR would leave.
This is maybe only tangentially related, but it’s come out in recent days that one of the top investigators who has been digging into Covid’s origin, Michael Worobey–one of the prominent experts who previously signed a letter saying we had dismissed the lab leak possibility too early–has released some more findings and at least in his opinion the data makes a lab leak less likely. He still says it can’t be ruled out, but he says that given our best knowledge of all of the pandemic’s early cases there is all but no correlation with the spread and the WIV, meanwhile there is significant correlation with the spread of the virus and the Huanan Seafood Market. He specifically notes that while prohibited, it is well known that that market frequently carries live raccoon dogs and civets, which would be highly viable candidates for having passed a form of the virus transmissible to humans on to Patient 0.
I do agree with the scientific consensus we jumped way too hard on the idea of a lab leak in the early months of the pandemic, but we shouldn’t entirely ignore that research is still ongoing into the pandemic’s origin and the more we have learned, at least thus far, the less hard evidence we have linking any cases to the WIV.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition–political organizations like Breitbar, Fox News and the National Review tout procedural stories mentioning new information about things done at WIV coming out, basically anything that might cast doubt on the institution. But actual scientists are not finding any real link between the lab and the initial outbreak. Unless epidemiology just has no validity at all, it’s still a big leap from “hey we found out about some research we didn’t realize WIV was doing” and “link to the earliest covid cases”, the latter requires hardcore epidemiological proof, which thus far is not there, and in fact the better quality out data becomes on the earliest cases the stronger correlation appears to be with the Huanan Seafood Market.