by WorldTribune Staff, May 11, 2021
“Gain-of-function” research works on making pathogens deadlier or more easily transmissible sound sinister, is certainly significant and potentially has military applications.
An increasing number of scientists are now saying that Covid-19 was very likely the product of such research.
During congressional testimony on Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul confronted National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading advocate for gain-of-function research, over NIH funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese lab that is the likely source of the coronavirus outbreak.
Related: 15 months later, world can no longer ignore China’s, Fauci’s roles in pandemic’s origins, May 9, 2020
“Dr. Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?” Paul asked Fauci.
“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely and completely incorrect,” Fauci responded. “The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
“Will you categorically say that COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage [a method of creating a virus] in a laboratory?” Paul asked.
“I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done and I am fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China,” Dr. Fauci said. “However, I will repeat, the NIH…categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
The U.S. government has assessed that the Wuhan lab was conducting gain-of-function research in some form, Politico reported in March. Jamie Metzl, an expert on gene editing for the World Health Organization, has also noted that the Wuhan lab performed gain-of-function research.
The EcoHealth Alliance diverted $600,000 in grants from the NIH to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the form of sub-grants from 2014 through 2019, for the purpose of studying bat coronaviruses.
At least one study conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology involving “recombination” of SARS-related coronavirus from bats cites the NIH as a source of funding, Richard Ebright, Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, noted on Twitter.
When Paul pointed out that gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab was previously funded through a sub grant, Fauci replied that it would have been irresponsible of the U.S. not to have investigated the bat viruses and their serology in China, of which Covid was one.
“Or perhaps it would be irresponsible to send it to the Chinese government that we may not be able to trust with this knowledge and with these incredibly dangerous viruses,” Paul said.