National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci denied he misled Congress when questioned about whether the National Institutes of Health (NIH) used tax dollars to support gain-of-function research in China.
“Neither I nor Dr. Francis Collins, the director of NIH, lied or misled about what we’ve done,” said Fauci on ABC’s This Week on October 24.
The denial came after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said in an Axios interview on HBO that Fauci should be fired after the NIH admitted in a letter on October 20 to Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, that the Wuhan Institute of Virology did test “if spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to humanized mice.”
The letter, signed by Lawrence Tabak, principal deputy director at NIH, said the mice injected with the modified virus “became sicker” and, “as sometimes occurs in science, this was an unexpected result of the research.”
The funding for the experiment came from an NIH grant to EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. that was sub-awarded to the Wuhan lab for research in 2018.
In response to the letter, Paul tweeted, “I told you so doesn’t even begin to cover it here.”
Paul grilled Fauci during a congressional hearing on July 20 about a statement Fauci made to Congress on May 11 claiming NIH never funded gain-of-function research.
Paul said the NIH letter describes gain-of-function research.
“They created a virus that doesn’t exist in nature, and it became more dangerous; that is gain-of-function,” said Paul during the Axios interview. “They try to justify it and say, well, it was an unexpected result. I’m not sure I buy that.”
Paul said Fauci should be fired for bad judgment if nothing else.
“He is probably never going to admit he lied and will try to work around the truth and massage the truth,” Paul said.
“The letter admitted that EcoHealth failed to report this finding in a timely way, as was required by the grant,” said Paul. “It emphasized that [the] modified virus could not have become SARS-CoV-2 because ‘the sequences of the viruses are genetically very distant.’”
Fauci reiterated that claim on This Week.
“Unequivocally, anyone that knows anything about viral biology and phylogeny of viruses knows that it is impossible for those viruses worked on to turn into SARS CoV2 because they were distant enough molecularly that no matter what you did to them, they could never, ever become SARS CoV2,” Fauci said.
Seeking More Info
Paul said more investigations and hearings are needed to determine the origin of the SARS CoV2 virus, whether it came from a lab, and whether this kind of research continues.
The news outlet The Intercept says it is seeking any missing reports that would explain why the most recent report from EcoHealth Alliance was submitted two years late.
“Neither the NIH nor the EcoHealth Alliance offered an explanation from the date of the report or responded to questions … about whether another version of the report had been submitted on time and, if so, in what ways that version may have been altered,” The Intercept reported.
In another development, The Epoch Times reported on October 25 the NIH removed from its website an explanation of “gain-of-function” research.
According to the article, NIH had stated the term “refers to any research that modifies a biological agent in a way that confers new or enhanced activity to that agent.”
The website now states research involving “enhanced potential pandemic pathogens (ePPPs) ‘is a type of so-called gain-of-function’ research” and “the vast majority of GOF [gain-of-function] research does not involve ePPP and falls outside the scope of oversight required for research involving ePPPs.”
Adding fuel to the fire, media reports surfaced on October 22 stating the NIH and Fauci greenlighted $1.68 million to fund cruel experiments on live puppies in which the dogs’ vocal cords were removed to suppress their howls of pain.
House members sent a letter to Fauci demanding an explanation.
Smoke and Mirrors
It is unlikely the public will ever find out the true origin of the SARS-CoV virus, says Joel Zinberg, M.D., J.D., a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“It is unlikely the Chinese will ever cooperate with a full and open investigation,” Zinberg said.
“It doesn’t help that our own NIH has, until recently, stonewalled on its involvement in funding research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that manipulated bat coronaviruses to see if they were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor—the same receptor that SARS-CoV2 binds to. The modified virus made infected humanized mice sicker than the unmodified virus,” said Zinberg.
Zinberg says the NIH is wrong to downplay the gain-of-function aspect of the research “because these bat coronaviruses had not been shown to infect humans.”
“This is a technicality and an unconvincing one at that,” said Zinberg. “Other bat coronaviruses had already caused two deadly diseases: SARS and MERS. It wasn’t a stretch to think a different coronavirus could become dangerous, too.
“Dr. Tabak also tried to reassure Congressman Comer that the virus studied in the research was too genetically distinct from SARS-CoV-2 to have been the source of the pandemic,” said Zinberg. “But considering that neither the Chinese nor the NIH have been particularly forthcoming about this coronavirus research, it is entirely possible that U.S. taxpayers funded a different project at the Wuhan lab that may have led to SARS-CoV-2.”
AnneMarie Schieber (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the managing editor of Health Care News.