Following this exchange, Josh Rogan, Washington Post columnist was, to my recollection, the first in this paper to question Fauci’s probity.
Paul, who believes the evidence points to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the world’s leading bat coronavirus lab, as the source of the outbreak, pressed Fauci about a scientific paper by WIV’s head bat researcher, Shi Zhengli. Arguing that her work modifying viruses to make them more transmissible to humans constitutes “gain of function research,” he accused Fauci of lying to Congress, a federal crime.
Fauci insisted that it “was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function.” He was using a specific definition crafted by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2017 when the Obama administration’s pause on gain of function research was lifted. “And Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly,” Fauci added. [snip]
…many scientists think Paul actually does know what he’s talking about. One of them is Rutgers University microbiologist and biosafety expert Richard Ebright, whom Paul quoted as saying this research “matches, indeed epitomizes the definition of gain of function research.”
Other scientists, even those who believe the lab leak theory likely, argue that Fauci is technically correct, although they note that the official definition is so narrow it enables anyone to avoid the review process Fauci himself helped to establish. In other words, if the oversight system for reviewing risky research is almost never used, what good is it?
But it doesn’t matter which “gain of function” definition you prefer. What everyone can now see clearly is that NIH was collaborating on risky research with a Chinese lab that has zero transparency and zero accountability during a crisis [snip]
Fauci also told Paul there’s no possibility the research in the paper Paul cited directly led to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but Paul correctly called this out as a straw man. That specific project was only one element of the U.S. government multiagency effort that for years pumped U.S. money and know-how into these Wuhan lab…
In an editorial, the Washington Post followed up, attacking the Chinese deceptions on the origin of the virus and slipping in a brief mention of NIH’s role.