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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced the first ever hearing on gain-of-function research, which will be aimed at pinning down the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Throughout this pandemic, Dr. Rand Paul has led the effort to hold government officials accountable on the status of efforts being made to combat COVID-19, and the origins of this virus that has killed over 6 million people worldwide,” a spokesperson for Paul told Fox News Digital. “This has been over a year-long process of getting Congressional Democrats to finally agree to a hearing, which will also be the first Congressional hearing on gain-of-function research. Dr. Paul looks forward to working with Subcommittee Chairwoman Hassan and hearing from expert witnesses during this critically important hearing that should’ve happened long ago.”
The hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday, comes a week after the Kentucky senator attempted to pass an amendment to the CHIPS-Plus Act that would have banned U.S. funding of gain-of-function research in China, with Democrats objecting to the amendment despite it passing unanimously in an earlier version of the bill last year.
In remarks on the floor of the Senate last week, Paul argued that there was significant evidence that the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic could be traced to a lab in Wuhan, China.
Sen. Rand Paul speaks during a COVID-19 federal response hearing on Capitol Hill.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
“Gain-of-function research enhances the severity or transmissibility of existing viruses that may infect humans,” Paul said. “The dangers are so acute that from 2014-2017, the National Institutes of Health suspended funding for all gain-of-function projects… the emergence of COVID serves as a reminder that dangerous research conducted in a secretive and totalitarian country is simply too risky to fund.”
Paul also sent a letter to the acting director of the National Institutes of Health, Lawrence A. Tabak, last week to demand the agency be more transparent on the origins of COVID-19, arguing that NIH has “repeatedly disregarded its responsibilities” under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Of particular concern is NIH’s recent admission in Court that the agency is withholding portions of emails between employees because they ‘could be used out of context and serve to amplify the already prevalent misinformation regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic,'” Paul said in the letter. “This suggests NIH is censoring the information it releases to the public about the origins of the pandemic.”
Paul has had several clashes with public health officials throughout the pandemic, including several confrontations with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who currently serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to President Biden.
Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to questions from Sen. Rand Paul at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.
(Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)
Most recently, Paul told Fox News that Fauci would be forced to testify under oath regarding the pandemic if the Republican Party takes control of Congress after the midterm elections.
“If he’s in public employment, we will subpoena him,” Paul said. “He will have to appear and testify under oath. If Republicans take charge of the House or the Senate or both, he will have to testify under oath because a million Americans died. And we want to know about was there a cover-up in trying to suppress any link to the lab in China?”
Michael Lee is a writer at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee