August 25, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

Anthony Fauci rebuked Rand Paul, and it still stings

Two years later, the Kentucky senator wants him prosecuted.

Screenshot 2023-08-25 9.48.24 AM

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Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially,” Dr. Anthony Fauci testified in July 2021.

US Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, had accused Fauci, who was at the time the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, of lying to the Congress about the funding of a gain-of-function (GOF) experiment at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and of “trying to obscure responsibility for four million people dying around the world from a pandemic.” 

The hearing became a battle between one of the country’s most respected scientists and Rand, a non-practicing eye doctor who created a fake medical board in order to falsely promote himself as “board certified.”

Clearly, Fauci’s rebuke still stings. 

Two years after the confrontation between Fauci and Paul, the evidence for a natural origin for SCV2 continues to accumulate while the lab-leak boosters clutch at straws to keep their cherished theory alive. 

Recently, Rand announced that he had asked the US Attorney for the District of Columbia to prosecute Fauci for perjury. Paul tried to interest the Justice Department in perjury prosecution in 2021. That request went nowhere, because challenging Paul’s crackpot theories is not a crime. 

Fauci testified that NIH scientists “up and down the chain” determined that the project did not qualify as gain-of- function under the agency’s criteria. 

Experts disagree about how gain-of-function should be defined. However, the ostensible purpose of Paul’s line of questioning was to find out if NIH violated its own rules, so the NIH’s definition was the relevant one. 

Paul’s real agenda was to push the conspiracy theory that NIH caused the covid pandemic by funding this particular experiment. This is impossible. Neither the original bat viruses in this experiment nor the end product could possibly have given rise to the virus that causes Covid-19. 

Fauci stated in emails that the Wuhan Institute of Virology engaged in gain-of-function research. Paul is now claiming this proves Fauci lied to the Congress. This is a dishonest equivocation by Paul. Fauci testified that the experiment that the NIH helped fund was not GOF. He didn’t testify as to whether there was any GOF going on at the Wuhan Institute. 


At the very beginning of the pandemic, some leading virologists entertained the idea that the virus might have leaked from the Wuhan Institute. So they investigated the question and determined that the seemingly mysterious features of the SCV2 virus were found in nature. They published a paper making that case and lab-leak boosters have been trying to concoct some kind of scandal out of the normal operation of the scientific method

Since the paper’s publication, its conclusions have been supported by a growing body of scientific and intelligence data. The geographical distribution of early fits an emergence from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, not the lab across town. Viruses ever more similar to SCV2 are being found in wild bats. 

As the scientific credibility of the lab-leak theory has dwindled, the vitriol of its proponents has increased. Paul isn’t the only rightwinger seeking vengeance on Fauci. “We need to pop him good, and hang a felony on him is what we need to do. People lost their lives because of this nonsense, and they are playin’ God,” said Tennessee Congressman Tim Burchett. Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert called for Fauci’s prosecution. The head of the Oklahoma Republican Party called for his execution. Last year, a West Virginia man was sentenced to three years for threatening to drive Fauci and his family into the street, beat them to death and set them on fire. 

Two years after the confrontation between Fauci and Paul, the evidence for a natural origin for SCV2 continues to accumulate while the lab-leak boosters clutch at straws to keep their cherished theory alive. 


Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.

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