By Caroline Downey, National Review
A top NIH official admitted in a letter this week that U.S. taxpayers funded gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan and revealed that EcoHealth Alliance, the U.S. non-profit that funneled NIH money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was not transparent about the work it was doing.
Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says the evidence has “been hiding in plain sight.”
In the letter to Representative James Comer (R., Ky.), Lawrence A. Tabak of the NIH cites a “limited experiment” that was conducted to test if “spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.” The laboratory mice infected with the modified bat virus “became sicker” than those infected with the unmodified bat virus.
The revelation vindicates Republican senator Rand Paul, who got into heated exchanges with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director Anthony Fauci during his May and July testimonials before Congress over the gain-of-function question. At the second hearing, Paul accused Fauci of misleading Congress by denying that the U.S. had funded gain-of-function projects at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Gain-of-function research involves extracting viruses from animals and artificially engineering them in a laboratory to make them more transmissible or deadly to humans.
In keeping with Fauci’s refusal to use “gain-of-function,” Tabak avoids the term, though the work he described matches its commonplace definition precisely.
“The evidence of Dr. Fauci’s funding of and involvement in what most observers view as gain of function research has been hiding in plain sight since the beginning of the pandemic,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) tells Empower Wisconsin. “The latest admission from NIH only confirms what many of us have suspected and provides further proof that our requests for more information and greater transparency are well justified.”
A previously unpublished EcoHealth grant proposal filed with NIAID, obtained by The Intercept, had already exposed that $599,000 of the total grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was for research designed to make viruses more dangerous and/or infectious.
Dr. Richard Ebright, biosafety expert and professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, had previously rebutted Fauci’s claim that the NIH “has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology [WIV]” as “demonstrably false.”
Ebright told National Review that the NIH-financed work at the WIV “epitomizes” the definition of gain-of-function research, which deals with “enhanced potential pandemic pathogen (PPP)” or those pathogens “resulting from the enhancement of the transmissibility and/or virulence of a pathogen.”
Read more at National Review.
Empower Wisconsin contributed to this story.