HomeHealth Care NewsBiden Administration Supports ‘Gain of Function’ Research

Biden Administration Supports ‘Gain of Function’ Research

President Joseph Biden supports research that makes viruses more transmissible, says an administration spokesman.

Biden views such “gain-of-function” research as “prudent,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a White House press briefing on February 27.

“He believes that it’s important to help prevent future pandemics, which means he understands that there has to be legitimate scientific research into the sources or potential sources of pandemics so that we understand it, so that we can prevent them, and we prevent them from happening, obviously.”

Such research “must be done in a safe and secure manner and as transparently as possible to the rest of the world,” said Kirby.

‘Reckless Declarations’

The Biden administration reversed previous policy, says Scott Atlas, M.D., the Robert Wesson senior fellow in health care policy at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and a fellow at the Hillsdale College Academy for Science and Freedom.

“It is extraordinary to hear the Biden administration endorsing gain-of-function research, especially right now,” said Atlas. “The Obama-Biden administration cut funding and then instituted a moratorium on such research due to extreme risks. Since that time, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci circumvented restrictions for years by funding and outsourcing high-risk research, even to labs with sub-standard controls and in countries, like China, where oversight would be impossible.”

Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), denies funding “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

Fauci’s assertion is inconsistent with the administration’s support of gain of function research, says Atlas.

“Given the COVID-19 worldwide disaster likely related to such research, it is frankly shocking to hear such reckless declarations made when the world is just beginning to understand the hazards,” said Atlas. “It seems inexplicable, unless perhaps this is a cynical attempt to cover for gross malfeasance by those in charge at the NIH and NIAID.”

‘Research Gone Awry’

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) gave the White House and unnamed “key members” of Congress a classified intelligence report that states the COVID-19 pandemic most likely came from a lab leak, The Wall Street Journal reported on February 26.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported the NIH and EcoHealth Alliance, a contractor, failed to adequately monitor the work at WIV that received U.S. taxpayer funds, says John Abramson, M.D., a lecturer on health care policy at Harvard Medical School and author of Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It.

“We don’t know whether the source of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed seven million people, was a lab leak in China,” said Abramson. “But January 2023 reports from both the OIG and the Government Accounting Office show failure of oversight that certainly could have contributed to gain of function research gone awry.”

‘WIV’s Lack of Cooperation’

The OIG’s report stated that the WIV was an obstacle to oversight, says Abramson.

“Although WIV cooperated with EcoHealth’s monitoring for several years, WIV’s lack of cooperation following the COVID-19 outbreak limited EcoHealth’s ability to monitor its sub-recipient,” said Abramson. “In other words, the monitoring of high-risk research done with NIH grants was out of control.”

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has put forth a unanimous set of recommendations to increase the safety of gain of function research, says Abramson.

“The outstanding question is, ‘What will it take for Americans to be able to trust federal agencies to oversee the safe conduct of gain of function research that could well help prevent the next pandemic but may well have caused this one?’” said Abramson.

Pfizer Denies Gain of Function Research

Kirby’s remarks came after Project Veritas released video on January 25 of Jordon Trishton Walker, a Pfizer executive, telling an undercover videographer the drug company was “optimizing” the COVID mutation process in secret research.

Pfizer denied conducting such research, in a press release on January 27 that did not refer to the video.

“In the ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research,” said Pfizer. The company said it is working on COVID-19 mutations, or “variants of concern,” as they arise and are identified by health officials.

Weeks after the video went viral, James O’Keefe, the founder, chairman, and public face of Project Veritas said he no longer had a job with the organization.

‘Whole Planet Is at Risk’

Secrecy in drug development means outside experts can’t assess the results of research, says Abramson.

“The drug industry is allowed to function with unique lack of oversight among wealthy nations [where there is] …. a sham peer-review that convinces doctors that medical journal reports of clinical trial results have been independently reviewed prior to acceptance for publication when in truth the peer-reviewers do not have access to the actual data from the clinical trials, just the manuscripts that are often written by and certainly reviewed by the drug company sponsors of that research,” said Abramson.

The justification for gain of function research doesn’t matter, because of its dangers, says David Gortler, Pharm.D., a scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and former senior advisor to the Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

“It doesn’t really matter; as long as gain of function research is being done somewhere on earth, the whole planet is at risk,” said Gortler.


AnneMarie Schieber (amschieber@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Health Care News.

AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform.


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