White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied during a briefing on Thursday that White House COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci lied to Congress about funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China.

“NIH has refuted that reporting,” Psaki said in response to a question from Fox News’ Peter Doocy. “NIH has never approved any research that would make a coronavirus more dangerous to humans. We’re reminded that there are previous and different coronaviruses than the existing one we’re battling.”

Psaki said the science showed the coronavirus sequences researched with funding from the National Institutes of Health and Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) were not the strain that the world is currently dealing with. “So what he said was correct,” Psaki said, referring to Fauci’s testimony.

Critics accused Fauci of being untruthful to Congress after The Intercept released documents on Tuesday detailing U.S.-funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Fauci has repeatedly insisted the NIH, the parent agency of NIAID, has not provided funds to any research considered gain-of-function at the lab.

“The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Fauci testified in May.

 

Richard Ebright, a Rutgers professor quoted by The Intercept, tweeted that the records show the lab created viruses that exhibited 10,000 times higher viral loads in humanized mice than the natural strain they were based on.

“The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology] are untruthful,” he tweeted.

Fauci had not commented on The Intercept’s reporting as of Thursday afternoon.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky accused Fauci of lying about the funding of gain-of-function research in July, arguing the lab’s work matched the NIH’s definition of the practice.

“You take an animal virus and you increase transmissibility to humans, you’re saying that is not gain of function,” Paul said.

“Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about,” Fauci responded.

Psaki confirmed Fauci would not be fired over the reporting when asked by Doocy.

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