Dr. Anthony Fauci, a controversial figure at the helm of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was presented with an honorary degree from Mayo Clinic Saturday.
Fauci then spoke to graduates of the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
“We have learned collectively to be open-minded and humble enough to reexamine and even change our recommendations, our guidelines, our policies, depending on the evolving data,” Fauci claimed in his commencement address.
“Importantly, in the context of your career choice as scientists, where public health measures have in part failed in the response to COVID-19, it is science that has been our savior,” he continued, pointing to the rapid development of a vaccine.
“For the speed and efficacy with which highly efficacious vaccines were developed and their potential for saving millions of lives were due to an extraordinary, multidisciplinary effort involving basic preclinical and clinical science that had been underway, out of the spotlight and under the radar screen, for decades before the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fauci.
Fauci’s virtual appearance at Mayo Clinic came just days after new documents added additional support to the claim that Fauci “very likely lied under oath to Congress when he denied that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases helped pay for ‘gain-of-function’ experiments on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.”
Fauci has faced intense criticism and calls to resign for his organization’s role in funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a Chinese lab that may have accidentally leaked COVID-19 into the population.
Under Fauci’s leadership, the NIAID provided federal grants to an organization called EcoHealth Alliance, which in turn sent $600,000 of that money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“The virologist community also knew that Fauci had approved and supervised NIAID grants to fund Dr. Shi’s work, parceled out by Dr. Daszak, who collaborated with her. The grant language is explicit: Dr. Shi was going to use the grant to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells,” Greg Pulles wrote in a recent article for Alpha News.
The connections between NIAID and the Wuhan Institute of Virology were strengthened in documents published by The Intercept early last week. According to the Daily Caller News Foundation, the documents show that Fauci’s organization “provided federal funds to the U.S. nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology to construct laboratory-generated SARS and MERS-related coronaviruses that demonstrated enhanced pathogenicity in humanized mice cells.”
“The documents make it clear that assertions by the [National Institutes of Health] 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 are untruthful,” Richard Ebright, a professor at Rutgers University and an infectious disease expert, claimed on Twitter.
The Daily Caller News Foundation also reports that these documents show the researchers funded by the NIAID were creating viruses with 10,000 times the viral load of the natural viruses they were based on. The NIAID also may have violated federal policies requiring all gain-of-function research to be approved by an independent review board, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
But Fauci told a congressional panel in May that the NIAID, one of 27 different agencies that make up the National Institutes of Health, “categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
This prompted Sen. Rand Paul to ask the Department of Justice for a “criminal referral” because Fauci “lied to Congress.”
“History is going to judge Dr. Fauci, and ultimately there will be scientists who will speak out who are not dependent on his NIH grants,” Paul told WMAL in July. “This is the problem, is that almost every virologist in our country, if not the world, is dependent on NIH grants. And so $40 billion are doled out, he’s been there 40 years, you think people who might disagree with him might be afraid to speak out?”