Dr. Anthony Fauci has been accused of lying to Congress by claiming the US did not fund gain-of-function research after newly unearthed documents regarding the grant proposal a study at the Wuhan lab blamed for creating COVID were made public for the first time.
The files were obtained by The Intercept as part of an FOI request to drill down the possible root of COVID and whether the US had any role in it.
They show that in 2014, the National Health Institute approved a five-year, yearly grant of $666,000 a year for five years ($3.3million) for EcoHealth Alliance, a US research organization, into bat coronavirus.
EcoHealth Alliance, in its proposal to the NIH, acknowledged the risks involved were ‘the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs’ among staff, who could then carry it out of the lab.
The NIH gave them the money anyway – something Fauci was previously forced to admit when testifying before Congress in May this year. EcoHealth Alliance then gave $599,000 of the money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
At the time and repeatedly since, he has denied that the research constituted what’s known as ‘gain-of-function’ research.
Gain-of-function research is the scientific term given to research that deliberately changes an organism to make give it new functions in order to test a theory.
When applies to studying human viruses, it can mean making the virus more transmissible and or even deadly in order to test what can and can’t survive it.
Dr. Fauci insisted to Congress in May that the US has never funded any kind of gain-of-function research in Wuhan to do with COVID-19. Newly unearthed files obtained by The Intercept have led some to question that claim
In 2014, the National Health Institute approved a five-year, yearly grant of $666,000 a year for five years ($3.3million) for EcoHealth Alliance, a US research organization, into bat coronavirus. EcoHealth Alliance, in its proposal to the NIH, acknowledged the risks involved were ‘the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs’ among staff, who could then carry it out of the lab. The NIH gave them the anyway – something Fauci was previously forced to admit when testifying before Congress in May this year. EcoHealth Alliance then gave $599,000 of the money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In 2014, the NIH granted EcoHealth Alliance, a US organization run by Peter Daszak, a five year, $3.3million grant to fund research into coronaviruses in bats
The notice of award for the grant was given to EcoHealth Alliance in May 2014
Daszak wrote in the grant proposal how he planned to assess coronavirus ‘spill over’ and how it was of a high risk to humans in China. He wrote that part of the study would involve experimental testing of how the virus was transmitted using mice and bats
The newly unearthed proposal gives more detail than was previously disclosed about what how the scientists actually planned to study the viruses, and some now say that it proves what they were doing was gain-of-function research.
‘The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful,’ Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, tweeted.
He studies the papers and said that the scientists performed ‘the construction – in Wuhan – of novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses that combined a spike gene from one coronavirus with genetic information from another coronavirus and confirmed the resulting viruses could infect human cells’.
Senator Rand Paul, who was widely mocked and dismissed for adopting the theory early on that COVID could have originated in the Wuhan lab and leaked from it, tweeted on Tuesday: ‘I have already asked the DOJ to review Fauci’s testimony for lying to Congress.
‘This report should make it abundantly clear that he needs to be held accountable.’
Glenn Greenwald, who founded The Intercept before resigning from it, said it was ‘amazing’ that the site – which had previously published stories on criticism of Paul’s adoption of the Wuhan leak theory – was now promoting it.’
The approval notice for the grant is 528 pages long.
It describes how EcoAlliance would receive yearly payments, totaling $3.3million over five years.
The funding was renewed in 2019 but was abruptly cut short in April 2020, once COVID-19 had spread throughout the world.
Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, tweeted on Tuesday morning that the newly unearthed documents show Fauci lied
Senator Rand Paul was among the first to adopt or suggest the likelihood that COVID could have come from the Wuhan lab, that was studying how coronaviruses spread from bats to humans when the outbreak began in Wuhan in 2019. He was ridiculed for the suggestion
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been fingered as the potential source of COVID-19. It received $599,000 in US government money from the EcoHealth Alliance for its study on coronaviruses in bats
EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak – who was among those who denied the COVID lab leak theory last year – said in the proposal that he wanted to screen thousands of bats for COVID-19.
‘This project seeks to understand what factors allow animal Coronaviruses to evolve and jump into the human population by studying virus diversity in a critical group of animals (bats), at sites of high risk for emergence (wildlife markets) in an emerging disease hotspot (China),’ the proposal reads.
He went on to describe how he planned to test it, writing: ’emergence potential will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments across a range of cell cultures from different species and humanized mice. ‘
Glenn Greenwald pointed out that the lab theory – which The Intercept is now advancing – was among those who mocked Paul for adopting it
Nowhere in the report are the words gain-of-function used to describe the project.
The only mention of it is the NIH’s addition that ‘no funds are provided and no funds can be used to support gain-of-function research’
‘Per the letter dated July 7, 2016 to Mr. Aleksei Chmura at EcoHealth Alliance, should any of the MERS-like or SARS-like chimeras generated under this grant show evidence of enhanced virus growth greater than 1 log over the parental backbone strain you must stop all experiments with these viruses and provide the NIAID Program Officer and Grants Management Specialist, and Wuhan Institute of Virology Institutional Biosafety Committee with the relevant data and information related to these unanticipated outcomes,’ it says.
DANGEROUS GAIN-OF-FUNCTION RESEARCH THAT THE US STOPPED FUNDING IN 2014 AFTER SARS OUTBREAK
Gain-of-function (GOF) research is a dangerous, controversial form of biological study that can involve making a virus more deadly in a lab in order for scientists to examine it.
The practice is so controversial that in 2014, the US initiated a funding pause n all GOF research.
It is not just used to measure how transmissible a virus can be – it technically means a way of giving an organism or biological agent a new function.
It can be used by scientists to try to create drought-resistant plants or to modify disease vectors to produce mosquitoes that are resistant to spreading transmitting dengue fever.
In 2003, scientists infected mice with developed versions of the SARS virus in order to find treatments and vaccines after it spread
In 2003, GOF was used after the original SARS outbreak in China to test vaccines and treatments for it among mice.
GOF research became a source of debate, however, after the outbreaks of Sars, Mers and the Avian Flu and in 2014, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) initiated a pause on funding.
‘In light of recent concerns regarding biosafety and biosecurity, effective immediately, the U.S. Government (USG) will pause new USG funding for gain-of-function research on influenza, MERS or SARS viruses,’ the report from the time read.
This is what Fauci refers to when he insists the US never funded any kind of gain-of-function research.
His critics say that what the Wuhan scientists were doing was just that, and the US is not admitting it.
It’s unclear if anything the Wuhan scientists produced ever did go over the 1 log over the parental backbone threshold, but in September 2019, they started deleting data-entries that related to the study.
They were discovered again in July this year and put back online.
The Intercept’s findings advance the theory that COVID could have come from the Wuha lab and not from the wet market in Wuhan – a more popular notion among Democrats.
The World Health Organization said earlier this year that it was premature to rule out the theory, and that more investigation was needed.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the comment earlier this year and said China had not been as forthcoming as the organization had hoped in studying where the virus may have come from.
‘I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist, and I have worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen. It’s common,’ he said.