New Documents Suggest U.S Funded Gain-of-Function Research In Wuhan

NIAID, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • New documents have been made public via a freedom of information act request revealing details about U.S funded research in Wuhan.

    • The documents suggest that gain-of-function (GOF) experiments were taking place with coronaviruses and humanized mice.

    • If true, Dr. Anthony Fauci would be guilty of lying to congress.

  • Reflect On:
    • What are the implications of the same people providing the solutions to the pandemic, potentially playing a role in the cause?

    • How can we trust Dr. Anthony Fauci to be truthful when he could be held responsible and punished if GOF research was taking place in Wuhan?

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Newly public documents of two U.S funded grants reveal that one of the aims of the research included testing the ability to infect humanized mice with genetically altered coronaviruses. Humanized mice are engineered to display human type receptors on their cells to act as a human surrogate.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), directed by Dr. Anthony Fauci approved two grants titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” and “Understanding Risk of Zoonotic Virus Emergence in Emerging Infectious Disease Hotspots of Southeast Asia.”  

This emerging information has experts like Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University claiming the documents have solid evidence that gain-of-function (GOF) research was taking place at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV.)

“The materials confirm the grants supported 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,”

Richard Ebright via Twitter.

Gain-of- function research is medical research that experiments with causing something like a virus to become more pathogenic, transmissible and/or able to infect a new host it previously could not. This type of research is highly controversial, typically related to ethics and unforeseen dangers. Its intent is to prepare for future pandemics by developing the potential pathogen in order to get a “head start” on treatments for it.

Ebright breaks down his interpretation of the nearly 900 pages of information on Twitter.

“The materials further reveal for the first time that one of the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses–one not previously disclosed publicly–was more pathogenic to humanized mice than the starting virus from which it was constructed,”

– Richard Ebright

One criticism of Ebright’s claims is that the grant states no funds can be used to support GOF research. Also, in front of congress Fauci himself has denied that the grants supported any GOF research at the WIV.

How do we know that funds were not actually used for GOF? It seems unclear who is a trustworthy person without some conflict of interest in the investigations surrounding COVID-19.

Both grants were awarded to the EcoHeath Alliance, an organization that subcontracted the research work to the WIV. 

The president of EcoHealth Alliance and principal investigator on both grants, Dr. Peter Daszak, was also a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) team in charge of the original investigation around the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an appearance on 60 Minutes, Daszak promoted the belief that COVID-19 originated from a bat at a wet market, but denied the possibility of a lab leak.

“For an accidental leak that– that then led COVID to happen, the virus that causes COVID would need to be in the lab. They never had any evidence of a virus like COVID in the lab,” 

Peter Daszak on 60 Minutes

These documents reveal that there were known coronaviruses present in the lab. Would the principle investigator not know this?

So who would blow the whistle if GOF was happening, and further more, if the research taking place was in some way responsible for the pandemic?

Would it be the scientists at the WIV? The principal investigator of the grants, Daszak? The director of the NIAID, Fauci? 

How can we trust those who would be responsible and reprimanded to investigate and provide honest information about potential violations?

For now we can expect other experts to be weighing in on the documents as more filter through the hundreds of pages made public as a result of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation by independent media company, The Intercept, against the National Institutes of Health (NIH.)

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