WASHINGTON (TND) — Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul got into a heated dispute with Dr. Anthony Fauci Thursday during a Senate hearing about the federal government’s response to COVID-19.
Paul challenged the well-known infectious disease expert about an alleged lack of transparency from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where Fauci has worked for roughly 40 years, regarding royalty payments scientists at the NIH have received from third parties.
“Over the period of time from 2010 to 2016, 27,000, royalty payments were paid to 18,000 NIH employees. We know that not because you told us, but because we forced you to tell us through the Freedom of Information Act,” Paul said to Fauci. “Over $193 million was given to these 18,000 employees.”
“Can you tell me that you have not received a royalty from any entity that you ever oversaw the distribution of money in research grants?” Paul asked.
“You know, I don't know as a fact, but I doubt it,” Fauci responded.
Read more: “Watchdog says NIH has ‘taxpayers in the dark’ as scientists receive millions in royalties”
In 2005, following an Associated Press investigation into the royalty payments, the NIH expressed concern due to a potential conflict of interest.
Even Dr. Fauci “said that he felt it was inappropriate to receive payment and donated the entire amount to charity,” according to the NIH.
It wasn’t until after the AP investigation that the NIH created a policy to disclose the payments.
But when people wanted to gain access to them, the NIH pushed back until it was forced to hand the records over.
In October 2021, watchdog group Open The Books filed a federal lawsuit to obtain access to the disclosures. But once they received them, critical information had been redacted, such as who the payments came from and how much was doled out.
“Here's what I want to know. It's not just about you, everybody on the vaccine committee. Have any of them ever received money from the people who make vaccines? Can you tell me that?” Paul asked Fauci as the debate began to heat up.
“According to the regulations, people who receive royalties are not required to divulge them even on their financial statement, according to the by Bayh-Dole Act,” Fauci responded. “So let me give you some example, from 2015 to 2020 I – the only royalties I have was my lab and I made a monoclonal antibody for use in vitro reagent that had nothing to do with patients. And during that period of time, my royalties ranged from $21 a year, to $7,700. And the average per year was $191.46.”
“It's all redacted and you can't get any information on the 18,000 scientists,” Paul shot back. “So we want to know whether or not people got money from the people who made the manufacturing of vaccines.”