NEW YORK - Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, once again verbally sparred on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
"You're dancing around this because you're trying to obscure responsibility of four million people dying around the world from a pandemic," Paul said.
Fauci responded: "You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals — I totally resent that and if anyone is lying here, senator, it is you!"
The battle between Fauci and Paul continued again on the origins of COVID-19. While giving senators on Capitol Hill an update about the rapidly spreading delta variant, Paul insinuated that the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, funded research in a Wuhan lab in China that created the deadly virus. Fauci oversees research programs within the NIH.
"We don't know — we don't know if it did come from the lab but all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab," Paul said. "And there will be responsibility for those who funded the lab, including yourself."
Fauci fired back.
"Senator Paul, you do not know what you're talking about, quite frankly," Fauci said. "And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about."
Fauci explained that a grant that was given to the Wuhan lab for research involved viruses that were molecularly different from the virus that causes COVID-19.
"I have not lied before Congress. I have never lied. Certainly not before Congress," Fauci said. "Case closed."
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U.S. Intelligence agencies are currently investigating theories that an accidental leak from the lab could have led to the global pandemic.
Fauci also addressed the delta variant, which is now dominant in the United States.
"It has the capability of transmitting efficiently from human to human in an extraordinary manner well beyond any of the other variants," Fauci said.
He added that research is underway to determine whether or not Americans will need a booster shot to increase the amount of time that the vaccines provide protection.
"We don't want people to believe that when you're talking about boosters that means the vaccines are not effective," Fauci said. "They are highly effective."