BUCK: You could also make the case this may be one of the biggest stories in the world for a very long time, the origins of the biggest pandemic we’ve seen in a hundred years, one that we are still dealing with today. And if we are gonna be serious about not only getting out of this one but being better prepared for the next one — and given population growth and density and the fact that we now know that there are people out there who can play with viruses.
I don’t want to get all Tom Clancy and start thinking about what the long-term thriller novel implications of this are. But clearly gain-of-function research is real and going on, and we’re thinking about it in the context, Clay, when you’re talking about it how we can use it for good.
CLAY: Right. That’s the hope, right.
CLAY: That’s the only reason to do it, honestly.
BUCK: It could also be used for evil, which I think now everyone is well aware of, and if something like this could be going on in a lab in China, where else could this be happening? But with all this, accountability is essential. Who knew what, when? What decisions were made by different individuals in positions of power during this pandemic? Senator Rand Paul (who as Clay said, will be with us later) had the following to share with us. Well, he said this on TV, that he’s pushing for Dr. Fauci to be held accountable legally.
PAUL: Yes. And I will be sending a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a criminal referral because he has lied to Congress. We have scientists that will line up by the dozens to say that the research he was funding was gain-of-function. He’s doing this because he has a self-interest to cover his tracks and to cover his connection to Wuhan lab. Now, does he deserve all of the blame? No. There’s still some conjecture as to whether or not it came from the lab. But he’s lying about whether or not he funded gain-of-function research. And, yes, he should be punished.
BUCK: We’re gonna have to push him on this. That’s a big allegation.
CLAY: It’s massive, and look, again: I don’t think it’s crazy to say that this could be the biggest story of most of our lives. If the United States was in any way partly responsible through gain-of-function research for helping to lead to the creation of a virus that otherwise would not have existed, that escaped from a Chinese lab, and that has been responsible for the death of millions of people who have died with covid.
I say “with” because a lot of these people had comorbidities. They were elderly; they may have died of other causes as well. But still, the very essence of how this happened — and, Buck, to your point, this is a Frankenstein-like situation with a virus where you create something with the idea of doing good and instead you create ill.
And I think the scary thing about this, as you just mentioned, is this gain-of-function research could lead to future covids down the line where nefarious actors — who are intentionally making as virulent and dangerous of a virus as is possible — are then intent on unleashing it upon the globe in an effort to terrorize and destroy the world as we know it. That isn’t a crazy idea at all. We think of terrorism as being something that occurs in a 9/11 context or bombing context. But the scariest way for terrorism to emerge in the future is bioterror.
BUCK: We know that this virus attacks certain comorbidities, Clay. There also could be ways to adjust it that it would go after certain genetic markers.
CLAY: Younger people.
BUCK: You start to look at what this could do and it’s terrifying.