Fauci said we do not "now" fund such research and explained why it was done in the past.
"We don't know whether the pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan or evolved naturally, but we should want to know," Paul said. "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... This gain-of-function research has been funded by the NIH. The collaboration between the U.S. and the Wuhan Virology Institute continues."
"Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect," Fauci said. "The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology... We do not send money now to the Wuhan Virology Institute."
"We did," Paul replied, "Under your tutelage, we were sending it through EcoHealth – it was a subagency and a sub-grant. Do you support that the money from NIH that was going to the Wuhan Institute?"
"Let me explain to you why that was done," Fauci eventually said.
"The SARS-CoV-1 originated in bats in China," Fauci continued. "It would have been irresponsible of us if we did not investigate the bat viruses and the serology to see who might have been infected."
"Or perhaps it would be responsible to send it to the Chinese government – who we may not be able to trust – with this knowledge and with these incredible dangerous viruses," Paul said. "Government scientists like you who favor gain-of-function research–"
"I don’t favor gain-of-function research in China, you are saying things that are not correct!" Fauci stated.
"Will you, in front of this group, say that COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage in a laboratory?" Paul asked.
Fauci replied: "I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done and I am fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China."
"In a functional country, there would be a criminal investigation into Tony Fauci’s role in the COVID pandemic that has killed millions and halted our country, changing it forever," Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Monday about reports that the NIH funded the coronavirus research at the Wuhan lab.