Sen. Paul's Research Funding Ban Gains Traction As U.S. Seeks More Info On COVID-19 Origins
Lawmakers in the U.S. are stepping up investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Sen. Rand Paul leading the charge to defund some types of research in China.
What was once dismissed as a conspiracy theory — that COVID-19 might have had its origins in a Wuhan virology lab — is getting more attention in Congress.
As the Biden administration presses for a deeper look into the causes of the pandemic, the Senate has agreed to an amendment put forward by Paul that bars funding what's known as "gain of function" research. The method seeks to study organisms or diseases by making them more transmissible.
Paul said no money should flow to China that could wind up fueling the controversial research.
"Do we trust them enough? Are they open enough to tell us what's going on in the lab that we want to give them money?" Paul asked in a floor speech. "I think without question they have not shown this."
The nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said the U.S. did fund work in the Wuhan lab but categorically denies it was part of any "gain of function" studies.
"I feel the likelihood is still high that this is a natural occurrence, but since we cannot know 100% whether it is or is not, other possibilities exist and for that reason, I and my colleagues have been saying that we're very much in favor of a further investigation," Fauci told lawmakers this week.
Interest in further probes into COVID's origins have gained new life after The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers from the Wuhan institute became sick enough in 2019 that they sought hospital care, bolstering circumstantial evidence that critics say warrants further scrutiny.