One of the biggest stories of the week was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s fiery exchange with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) during a Senate health committee hearing on Tuesday. In the video below, Paul asks Fauci if NIAID funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Lab of Virology (WLV).
The best definition of gain-of-function research comes from an article in Hot Air. “By making the viruses more infectious to humans in the lab, scientists can see how viruses might mutate into something dangerous out in the wild. Then they can start producing therapies and vaccines to treat them now, before they cause a pandemic. They’re trying to get ahead of natural evolution in a laboratory setting, in other words, and anticipate how a dangerous pathogen might be suppressed. The problem is, by tinkering, they’re creating precisely the sort of virus that could cause a pandemic if it escaped the lab.”
Here are the highlights from the video:
Paul: “For years, Dr. Ralph Baric, a virologist in the U.S., has been collaborating with Dr. Shi Zhengli from the Wuhan Virology Institute, sharing his discoveries about how to create superviruses. This gain-of-function research has been funded by the NIH. … Dr. Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH lab in Wuhan?”
Fauci: “With all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect. The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Paul: “Do you fund Dr. Baric’s gain-of-function research?”
Fauci: “Dr. Baric is not doing gain-of-function research, and if it is, it is according to the guidelines and is being conducted in North Carolina. … If you look at the grant and if you look at the progress reports, it is not gain-of-function, despite the fact that people tweet that, write about it.”
Paul: “Will you categorically say that the COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage in a laboratory?”
Fauci: “I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done, and I am fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China. However, I will repeat again, the NIH and NIAID categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
The correct answer to Paul’s question falls into a grey area. NIAID is “one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).”
NIH did provide a grant (or a series of grants) to a nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance which was connected to the WLV. EcoHealth Alliance, according to The Scientist, describes itself as “a global environmental health nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and public health from the emergence of disease.”
Peter Navarro served in the Trump Administration as the Assistant to the President and the Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. The National Pulse published an exclusive article written by Navarro which alleges that the WLV deleted “Fauci’s NIH and gain of function mentions from old web pages in early 2021.”
“The Wuhan Institute of Virology scrubbed the U.S. National Institutes of Health as one of its research partners from its website in early 2021. The revelation comes despite Dr. Anthony Fauci insisting no relationship existed between the institutions,” claimed Navarro.
Moreover, he wrote: “Archived versions of the Wuhan lab’s site also reveal a research update – ‘Will SARS Come Back?’ – appearing to describe gain-of-function research being conducted at the institute by entities funded by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).”
If true, this is a huge story.
Navarro runs through nine points to make the case that Fauci “used NIH grant money to help fund the WLV.” and that the money was funneled to the Wuhan Lab through [Dr.] Peter Daszak” and EcoHealth Alliance. Daszak, a British zoologist, is the President of EcoHealth Alliance.
Among the most explosive allegations Navarro makes is that: “Fauci, together with NIH Director Francis Collins, went behind the back of the Trump White House in December 2017 to overturn a 2014 Obama Administration decision to ban the use of “gain of function” tools to increase the lethality of viruses – Australian journalist Sharri Markson has revealed Fauci used a “low level” White House meeting to fly below the radar.”
Read Navarro’s extraordinary article at the National Pulse.
Although it’s important to determine if the U.S. provided funding for this research, the critical issue is to determine the origin of COVID-19. If, as many believe, including the former CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, that the virus escaped from the WLV, we need to know about that.
Speaking to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent in March, Redfield said, “If I was to guess, this virus started transmitting somewhere in September, October in Wuhan. That’s my own feelings. And only opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now.”
“I still think the most likely ideology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped,” he told Gupta.
“The other people don’t believe that,” Redfield noted. “That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.”
He added, “I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology. I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human and, at that moment in time the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human transmission.”
Ex CDC Director Robert Redfield says he believes the coronavirus originated at a virology lab in Wuhan and began spreading in Sep 2019. Redfield led CDC under Trump says he is giving an opinion as a virologist. This is consistent with my reporting. CNN special airs Sunday. pic.twitter.com/KsVDRJtE0n
— Zev Shalev (@ZevShalev) March 26, 2021