Fauci, Walensky testify amid OSHA vaccine mandate rollout
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds hearing on "Next Steps: The Road Ahead for the COVID-19 Response"
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci are appearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Thursday morning for a hearing titled, “Next Steps: The Road Ahead for the COVID-19 Response.
The testimony comes as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Thursday that it will require employers with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or get tested weekly and wear a mask by Jan. 4.
While the stated intent behind the hearing is to look forward at how to handle the pandemic, it is more than likely that senators will also be looking to past actions and decisions by Fauci and his agency, both related to coronavirus and otherwise. Committee member Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was among lawmakers who sent letters in recent days regarding funding for “gain-of-function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and experimentation on puppies.
The letter regarding gain-of-function research, was sent on Oct. 29 to Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health – of which Fauci’s agency is a part. It was in reference to the NIH’s removal from their website of a section which defined that sort of research as “a type of research that modifies a biological agent so that it confers new or enhanced activity to that agent.”
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, responds to questions by Senator Rand Paul during the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 20, 2021. (Photo by J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) ((Photo by J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images))
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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Capitol hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 20, 2021. J. Scott Applewhite/Pool via REUTERS (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool via REUTERS)
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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images) (Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
The letter pointed out that the deletion was made around the same time that the NIH had admitted to having provided funding that ultimately went to the Wuhan lab for the study of coronaviruses in bats.
“Was the decision to remove the section of the NIH website entitled ‘Gain-of-Function Research’ on or about October 20, 2021, motivated by, or in any way related to, the October 20, 2021 letter from NIH to Rep. James Comer in which Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak acknowledged that NIH funds were sub-awarded to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study bat coronaviruses?” asked the letter, signed by Paul and Comer.
Three days after sending that letter, Paul and Sens. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Mike Braun, R-Ind., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, sent a letter to Fauci regarding a report that the NIAID had experimented on beagle puppies. Marshall, Braun, and Collins are all on the Senate HELP Committee along with Paul.
The letter cited a Daily Caller report which described how the agency reportedly force-fed or injected the puppies “with an experimental drug before killing and dissecting them.” The report also said that the NIAID cut the dogs’ vocal cords to keep them from barking.
“Even more troubling,” the letter said, “this testing appears to have been elective on the part of NIAID, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said it ‘does not mandate that human drugs be be studied in dogs.’”
The letter asked whether the FDA required this testing, or if the NIAID consulted the FDA regarding a possible alternative.
Thursday’s hearing also comes after Walensky approved a recommendation for the FDA to issue an emergency use authorization for children ages 5-11 to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus that causes COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine. As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated.”
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