As described in documents released this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci led the federal agency that funded experiments in China that infected mice with novel coronaviruses.
The Intercept reported Monday on over 900 pages of documents it obtained from the National Institutes of Health through requests made according to the federal Freedom of Information Act. The documents describe how the Wuhan Institute of Virology was awarded federal funding to study coronaviruses occurring in bats. The budget was directed by EcoHealth Alliance, an American nonprofit organization that promotes coronavirus field research.
Two of the grant proposals revealed in the documents were directly funded by Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. One of the newly disclosed grant applications was for what appears to be gain-of-function research.
The research described by the application includes experiments that were intended to make viruses more transmissible among humans and mammals. The grant to EcoHealth Alliance was for analysis performed from 2014 through 2019. The study examined thousands of samples taken from bats for novel coronaviruses.
The grant application acknowledged the potential dangers of experimenting with bat coronaviruses that would likely infect humans if accidentally released. The documents show that the contemplated fieldwork “involves the highest risk of exposure” to coronaviruses.
Dr. Richard Ebright of Rutgers University is a molecular biologist who told The Intercept that the research described in the grant application should be considered gain-of-function experimentation according to the definition of the term. He said that viruses were constructed and tested for increased capability to infect mice engineered to have human-like virus receptors.
Ebright posted a Twitter thread detailing his conclusion that the grants funded gain-of-function research as that term was defined in federal policies dealing with pathogen enhancement. He also stated that one of the lab-created viruses was “more pathogenic to humanized mice” after being altered.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has notably disagreed with Fauci during his testimony before the Senate, quoted Ebright’s Twitter thread with a post that said, “Surprise, surprise – Fauci lied again.”
Fauci has repeatedly and aggressively denied that his agency or the NIH provided any gain-of-function research funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci also accused Paul of lying about his involvement in such financing.
We might expect the next part of the story is Fauci and his lawyers weaseling out a new definition of “gain-of-function” that will work to pardon him for his part in the research.