Redfield said Fauci, who at the time was in charge of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Collins expelled him because Redfield suspected the coronavirus had leaked from a Chinese lab.
Fauci, who was not at the hearing, dismissed Redfield’s accusation as “completely false”.
“No one has excluded anyone,” he told the politician after the hearing.
“And the idea of saying he’s not needed there because he has a different opinion … there were several people in the conversation who had the opinion that it could be an engineered virus,” said Fauci, who stepped down from his government post at the end of last of the year.
Collins, who is now a scientific adviser to President Joe Biden, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He previously said he shares Fauci’s view that the virus likely originated in nature, but leaked from a lab is possible.
Redfield believed the highly infectious nature of the virus set it apart from other coronaviruses and made it unlikely to develop naturally, he told representatives.
Fauci and others said it most likely happened through natural spread from animals, as is the case with other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS, Redfield said.
The former CDC director said he later learned that he had been expelled from the February election commission. January 1, 2020, conference call with Fauci and Jeremy Farrar, a British scientist who was head of the Wellcome Trust at the time, and other conversations that resulted in the publication article in Nature in March 2020, rejecting the possibility of a laboratory origin of the virus. Farrar is now chief scientist at the World Health Organization.
Fauci told POLITICO that he did not contribute to the article.
But the Republican representatives at the hearing accused Fauci of orchestrating this to divert attention from US funding for research at the Wuhan lab.
“I think Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins got their hands stuck in a cookie jar. They were caught recharging viruses in an unsecured Chinese lab,” he said. James Comer (R-Kentucky), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.
Fauci has repeatedly denied that the NIH funded the so-called functionality-enhancement research at the Wuhan lab. This research aims to make viruses either more deadly or more transmissible, or both, to find ways to combat them.
Some Democrats at the hearing warned that charging Fauci with evil motives would further undermine the credibility of state health officials, threatening public health.
“I want facts, but I hope and I tell my colleagues on the other hand: we cannot go down a dangerous path by promoting unfounded conspiracies about Dr. Wilson. Fauci and other long-serving public health officials,” he said. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.).