Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief Medical Adviser to US President Joe Biden, and Senator Rand Paul engaged in a limited public showdown today over the origins of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which is causing havoc across the world.

What is the origin of COVID-19?

There are reportedly two theories around 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, the most controversial, is that the deadly virus came from Wuhan, with some conspiracy behind this.

Also Read | Vaccination only long-term solution to India's COVID-19 crisis: Fauci

Dr Fauci vs Senator Rand Paul during Senate hearing

Dr Fauci and Senator Paul, who on several occasions have argued on the issue of virus in several Senate hearings, took this one to a new level with the two engaging in public spat.

Senator Paul’s skepticism towards the government officials’ theory of the wet market origin of the virus came out blunt when he said that “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.”

Also Read | India’s US envoy meets health expert Anthony Fauci, discusses COVID crisis

His attack was more direct when he said that “for years one doctor in the U.S has been collaborating with a doctor from that (Wuhan) virology institute,” suggesting that Dr. Fauci was aware of and played a role in the development of COVID-19 virus. He went on to allege that  “this research (in Wuhan) has been funded by the NIH." 

Senator Rand Paul’s attack did not go down well with otherwise calm Dr. Fauci, who gave a firm reply. “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.”

Dr Fauci went on to explain more about ‘funding’ and ‘collaboration’, as Senator Paul continued to interrupt him.

 Though the two  have had arguments on several occasions, this one comes the day after 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.