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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 12, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – During a Tuesday hearing, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky confronted Dr. Anthony Fauci on his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funding virus enhancement experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), accusing the institute’s director of being directly involved in the SARS-CoV-2 creation and subsequent outbreak.

Paul described the nature of the research being carried out at the WIV, known as “gain-of-function,” explaining that a resident virologist, Dr. Shi Zheng-li, has long been working on developing bat-based coronaviruses into more potent variants capable of infecting humans. So renowned is Zheng-li for this type of research that she has acquired the moniker “Bat Lady.”

“Gain-of-function research, as you know, is juicing up naturally occurring animal viruses to infect humans. To arrive at the truth, the U.S. government should admit that the Wuhan Virology Institute was experimenting to enhance the coronavirus’s ability to infect humans,” stated Paul, who is a physician and also has had the coronavirus.

Continuing, Paul related that “for years Dr. Ralph Baric, a virologist in the U.S., has been collaborating with Dr. Shi Zheng-li of the Wuhan Virology Institute, sharing his discoveries about how to create super viruses. This gain-of-function research has been funded by the NIH (National Institutes of Health); the collaboration between the U.S. and the Wuhan Virology Institute continues.”

But Fauci denied that the NIAID, a part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, had indeed funded the collaborative work of Baric and Zheng-li: “Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely, and completely incorrect.”

“The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Dr. Baric does not do gain-of-function research and if it is, it is according to the guidelines and is being conducted in North Carolina, not in China,” Fauci claimed.

Pressed on the type of research being carried out by Baric and funded by the taxpayer through the NIH, namely “inserting a bat-virus spike protein … into the SARS viruses,” Fauci contended that Baric was not carrying out gain-of-function research. Despite Fauci’s protests, 200 scientists signed a statement asserting that his work does qualify as gain-of-function, according to Paul.

“If you look at the grant and you look at the progress reports, it is not gain-of-function, despite the fact that people tweet that, they write about it,” Fauci insisted.

However, Paul noted that Zheng-li and Baric “collaborated on gain-of-function research where they enhanced the SARS virus to infect human airway cells and they did it by merging a new spy protein on it. That is gain-of-function. That was joint research between the Wuhan Institute and Dr. Baric. You can’t deny it.”

Tucker Carlson slams Fauci’s ‘authoritarian germ hysteria’

Fox News host Tucker Carlson picked up on the discrepancy, noting Fauci’s involvement in the creation and promotion of public health directives on account of SARS-CoV-2 while also being intimately tied to the origin of the virus and its spread throughout the world.

Carlson questioned Fauci’s “personal role” in the “pandemic,” asking whether his “authoritarian germ hysteria,” giving rise to endless mask mandates and border closures, might actually be a method to “divert attention from himself” and his funding of Zheng-li at the WIV.

The recent work of noted science journalist Nicholas Wade, who has written for academic journals Science and Nature, as well as editing science reporting in The New York Times in an illustrious career spanning half a century has given new weight to the idea that the Wuhan virus escaped from a lab in the Chinese city.

Wade published a detailed and lengthy article entitled “Origin of Covid — Following the Clues” in which he traces the various threads of the novel coronavirus, from the kind of virus it is to the money that made researching and creating it possible, ultimately placing its origin at the hands of NIAID funded Zheng-li and the WIV.

Speculations were raised about the possibility of the virus hailing from a Wuhan laboratory in the early days of coronavirus reporting at LifeSiteNews, as can be seen here, here, and here; Wade’s addition, in Carlson’s words, “all but proves it.”

Wade explained that Zheng-li and her colleagues at the WIV were conducting “gain-of-function experiments designed to make coronaviruses infect human cells … This is exactly the kind of experiment from which a SARS2-like virus could have emerged.” But the conditions of the labs in which Zheng-li worked were known to be subpar, insofar as safety standards are considered.

LifeSiteNews columnist Steven Mosher wrote in May 2020 that the “high containment” P4 lab in which Zheng-li was working was not safe enough to offset the lack of training and protocols observed at the WIV to merit certification from the World Health Organization (WHO). For reference, a bio-safety-level 4 (BSL4) lab is considered necessary for containing highly infective diseases in experimentation, such as gain-of-function on coronaviruses. The WIV lab was classified as BSL2, which is roughly equivalent to the “level of safety that you would find in a dentist's office in America.”

Yet the WIV continued to create “novel chimeric coronaviruses and was assessing their ability to infect human cells and human-ACE2-expressing mice,” according to Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard H. Ebright.

Wade admitted that due to her records being sealed, “(it) cannot yet be stated that Shi (Zheng-li) did or did not generate SARS2 in her lab … but it seems she was certainly on the right track to have done so.”

Following the money trail, however, Wade was able to identify a clear connection between NIAID funding and Zheng-li's super virus experiments.

Fauci, as head of the NIAID, had authorized funding to a group called the EcoHealth Alliance for five years, between 2014 and 2019. The group’s head, Dr. Peter Daszak, used the money to contract with Zheng-li on gain-of-function experimentation, according to Wade’s report.

Extracts from the grants demonstrate the precise use of funds by Daszak and the kind of experiments being conducted at the WIV, which Wade summarized as follows: 

“Dr. Shi set out to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells. Her plan was to take genes that coded for spike proteins possessing a variety of measured affinities for human cells, ranging from high to low. She would insert these spike genes one by one into the backbone of a number of viral genomes (“reverse genetics” and “infectious clone technology”), creating a series of chimeric viruses. These chimeric viruses would then be tested for their ability to attack human cell cultures (“in vitro”) and humanized mice (“in vivo”). And this information would help predict the likelihood of “spillover,” the jump of a coronavirus from bats to people.”

On account of Zheng-li's work, coupled with the conditions at the WIV lab, Wade said the use of federal funds “to farm out high-risk research to unsafe foreign labs using minimal safety precautions” was at least “a questionable policy.”

In fact, federal grants for gain-of-function research had been banned by the government, owing to safety concerns. Wade noted that this moratorium was in place “for the first three years of the grant to EcoHealth Alliance,” adding that a loophole had been written into the embargo. 

“The moratorium specifically barred funding any gain-of-function research that increased the pathogenicity of the flu, MERS or SARS viruses. But then a footnote on p. 2 of the moratorium document states that ‘An exception from the research pause may be obtained if the head of the USG funding agency determines that the research is urgently necessary to protect the public health or national security.’”

Wade proposed that, to keep the funds flowing into Zheng-li's experiments, “either the director of the NIAID, Dr. Anthony Fauci, or the director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, or maybe both, would have invoked the footnote.”

Ebright seconded Wade’s notion, adding more firmly that Fauci “exploited this loophole to issue exemptions to projects subject to the Pause – preposterously asserting the exempted research was ‘urgently necessary to protect public health or national security’ — thereby nullifying the Pause.”

Ebright complained further that, after the moratorium came to a close in 2017 and a reporting framework (P3CO) for dangerous gain-of-function research was set up, Fauci simply “declined to flag and forward proposals for risk-benefit review, thereby nullifying the P3CO Framework.”

Ebright added that Fauci has “systematically thwarted efforts by the White House, the Congress, scientists, and science policy specialists to regulate GoF (gain-of-function) research of concern.”

As the Wuhan virus began to spread across various parts of the world, the WHO launched an investigation into the beginnings of the pathogen’s life, appointing Daszak as their sole American representative. Given Daszak’s vested interest in gain-of-function work at the WIV, it may be no surprise that the report returned an “extremely unlikely” verdict on the virus originating in the laboratory.