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Dr. Anthony Fauci and Senator Rand Paul engaged in an epic battle over the origins of the deadly Covid-19 contagion that has thus far led to the deaths of almost 600,000 Americans.

There are two competing theories of its origins: one is that it emanated from wet markets in Wuhan, China that sold civets, which had contracted SARS-CoV-2 from wild bats. The other theory is that the deadly pathogen came from a world-famous virology lab based in Wuhan, either accidentally, or via some more conspiratorial means.

Fauci and Paul have battled during many Senate hearings before, but this particular tete-a-tete rose to a new level of animus between the two.

Senator Paul opened by signaling skepticism towards the government officials who have promoted the wet market origins, saying that since “millions have died from this pandemic and that should cause us to explore all possibilities.” He then added that, in his esteem, “government authorities self-interested in continuing” in a research function “say there is nothing to see here.”

He then went on to posit the theory that the Wuhan Lab was more likely responsible for the creation of the coronavirus pathogen, and said “for years one doctor. in the U.S has been collaborating with a doctor from that virology institute,” suggesting that Dr. Fauci was aware of and played a role in the development of Covid-19, saying  “this research has been funded by the NIH. The collaboration between the U.S. and the Wuhan Institute continues.” Senator Paul ended by asking “Do still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?

Dr. Fauci did not take Paul’s suggestion well, replying “with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in that institute.”

This particular back and forth comes the day following a segment on Tucker Carlson Tonight in which host Tucker Carlson called for a criminal investigation into Dr. Fauci for “letting the coronavirus pandemic happen.” Carlson cited a Medium post by Nicholas Wade that explores the different theories of how the coronavirus started that appears to align with the allegations suggested by Senator Paul.

Former CDC Director Robert Redfield has gone on record in his belief that the virus started in the Wuhan lab, but there has been no sufficient evidence yet to emerge that has supported that claim. While Fauci has dismissed Redfield’s supposition, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has given it some level of credence.

Watch above via C-SPAN

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