A trove of newly released documents detailing U.S.-funded coronavirus research in China prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that Dr. Anthony Fauci was “untruthful” when he claimed that his agency did not finance gain-of-function research in Wuhan, an infectious disease expert says.
Documents published by The Intercept on Sunday show that Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provided federal funds to the U.S. nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology to construct laboratory-generated SARS- and MERS-related coronaviruses that demonstrated enhanced pathogenicity in humanized mice cells, according to Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard Ebright.
“The documents make it clear that assertions by the [National Institutes of Health] director, Francis Collins, and the [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at [the Wuhan Institute of Virology] are untruthful,” Ebright said in a tweet Sunday evening.
[“Gain of function” describes a risky process of making a disease more dangerous or contagious for the purpose of studying a response.]
Fauci said during a congressional hearing in May that NIH “categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Ebright and other experts have described EcoHealth Alliance’s work with the Chinese institute as gain-of-function research.
Ebright previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation that NIH “systematically thwarted” the federal government’s oversight of dangerous pathogen research by failing to flag research grants for review by a Department of Health and Human Services review board.
Fauci’s insistence that the EcoHealth Alliance research grant with the Chinese institute did not involve gain-of-function research led Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to send a criminal referral to the Justice Department in July to investigate whether Fauci lied before Congress.
Ebright said Sunday that the documents published by The Intercept show that one of the novel SARS-related coronaviruses created at the biosafety level 3 lab at the Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment was proven to be more pathogenic to humanized mice than the original virus from which it was constructed.
The documents also show that the NIAID-funded research in Wuhan supported construction of the novel MERS-related coronavirus, Ebright said.
Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, is far more deadly than SARS, with about 1 in 3 known human cases resulting in death, according to the World Health Organization.
“Surprise, surprise—Fauci lied again,” Paul tweeted Monday. “And I was right about his agency funding novel coronavirus research at Wuhan.”
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