In a Senate hearing discussing America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci rebuked Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) for unfounded comments on the origin of COVID-19.

Paul questioned Fauci on a conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was manufactured in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, then claiming that the U.S. National Institute of Health had been sending money to the Wuhan lab to fund viral experimentation.

“Sen. Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely and completely incorrect,” Fauci said on the Senate floor. “The NIH has not ever, and does not now, fund ‘gain of function research’ in the Wuhan Institute.”

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“You support it in the U.S. We have 11 labs doing it and you have allowed it here,” Paul responded. “We have a committee to do it, but the committee is granted every exemption. You’re fooling with Mother Nature here.”

“I fully agree that you should investigate where the virus came from, but again,” said Fauci, “we have not funded gain of function research on this virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

Paul has previously clashed with Fauci in Senate meetings on issues relating to COVID-19.

Paul is also expected to challenged by progressive Charlie Booker in the upcoming 2022 election. “The truth of the matter is we have much more in common than we do otherwise, and there are struggles that I have experienced in the west end of Louisville that aren’t partisan — rationing my insulin, seeing my lights be cut off, not having a place to stay, seeing loved ones battle drug addiction and looking at jobs leaving our community never coming back,” Booker said on Kentucky Educational Television.

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