Confronted by the increasingly plausible lab-leak theory of the origin of the novel coronavirus, White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci adamantly declared in Senate testimony Tuesday that the National Institutes of Health under his watch did not fund dangerous “gain-of-function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
But a press release from the institute recounts a May 2017 conference in which recipients of grants from Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – a branch of NIH – headlined a conference hosted by the Wuhan lab focusing on “gain of function research and gene editing.”
The National Pulse exclusively reported the press release on the conference, which was titled “2nd China-U.S. Workshop on the Challenges of Emerging Infections, Laboratory Safety and Global Health Security.”
The first of five sessions at the conference focused on “gain of function research, gene editing, targeting and delivery and other novel biotechnology.”
Among the special guests were American professors Linda Saif, James LeDuc and David Relman. In total, the three scientists have received nearly 200 grants from the National Institutes of Health. And 75 of those grants came the NIAID, which Fauci has directed since 1984.
On Tuesday, Fauci was confronted in Senate hearing by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who charged that the NIH funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab through the private EcoHealth Alliance led by Dr. Peter Daszak.
Fauci emphatically declared “the NIH and NIAID categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute.”
NIH grant records verify that funds were sent to EcoHealth Alliance that were used for research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The question is whether or not those funds were used for gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab.
Paul, in an interview Wednesday morning on Fox News’ “American Newsroom,” pointed to a paper by the chief researcher at the Wuhan lab, Dr. Shi Zengli, on her research of bat coronaviruses, titled “Origin and evolution of pathogenic coronaviruses”
First, her paper clearly acknowledged the funding came from Fauci’s NAID. And second, Paul said, MIT scientists who have examined the paper conclude she was doing gain-of-function research with that funding.
The paper’s introduction, in fact, describes the risky gain-of-function studies, which alter a pathogen to make it more transmissible or deadly so that experts can prepare a response in case of an outbreak. Shi and her colleagues write that their research examines the “potential for pathogenesis of SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) … found in bats, as this information can help prepare countermeasures against future spillover and pathogenic infections in humans with novel coronaviruses.”
Fauci, Paul claimed, “is verifiably telling you something that is not true.”
“Dr. Fauci came to Congress yesterday and lied,” he told Bill Hemmer. “We can’t prove the virus came from the lab. I’m not saying it did. I’m saying there is very much suspicious evidence that it might have.”
Paul charged Fauci is lying because he is “worried about culpability.”
See the interview with Sen. Rand Paul:
At the hearing Tuesday, Paul noted that American virologist Dr. Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina had been collaborating with Shi on gain-of-function research on bat viruses.
That collaboration was mentioned, WND reported Sunday, in a lengthy analysis of the origin of the pandemic by a prominent science journalist who worked for the journal Nature and the New York Times, Nicholas Wade.
Wade, who laid out evidence that the pandemic began with a leak from the Wuhan lab, showed that after working with Baric, Shi “returned to her lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and resumed the work she had started on genetically engineering coronaviruses to attack human cells.”
Grant proposals, which are public record, show funds were assigned to Shi’s prime contractor, the EcoHealth Alliance, for research constructing novel coronaviruses and assessing their ability to infect human cells.
The evidence that the proposed work was carried out came from EcoHealth’s Daszak himself. He boasted in an interview in December 2019 – before the novel coronavirus outbreak became generally known – that researchers at the Wuhan lab were reprogramming the spike protein and generating chimeric coronaviruses capable of infecting humanized mice.
Extracts from the grants for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 state, in non-technical language, Wade wrote, “that Shi set out to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells.”
Excerpts from the grants (“CoV” stands for coronavirus and “S protein” refers to the virus’s spike protein):
- “Test predictions of CoV inter-species transmission. Predictive models of host range (i.e. emergence potential) will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments across a range of cell cultures from different species and humanized mice.”
- “We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential.”
‘Playing word games with the American people’
In an interview Tuesday night, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., also charged Fauci was not telling the truth in his Senate testimony.
“The testimony today was deliberately evasive. I think Tony Fauci is playing word games with the American people,” he told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
The senator said it’s a matter of public record that the NIH funded an organization that sent hundreds of thousands of dollars of money from American taxpayer to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“The research at that lab was gain of function research, manipulating viruses to make them more transmissible or lethal,” Cotton said.
“In the whole big country of China, a country the size of the United States, [the novel coronavirus] didn’t come from some rural village up in the mountains near bat caves, but it came from a city larger than New York City which just happened to have these laboratories that Tony Fauci’s agency was indirectly funding,” he said.
Ingraham commented: “Senator, this is serious. We’ve got all these people dead. We have all of these horrible restrictions on American life that have led to enormous suffering. Don’t we deserve an answer?”
“We do deserve answers. Tony Fauci needs to give us answers,” Cotton replied. “He’s been wrong about a lot over the last year. Wrong about masks. Wrong about schools. Now he’s wrong about summer camps for kids. But he’s also wrong, today, to say that the NIH never directly or indirectly funded this kind of research.”
The senator said the American people “need to know why, in the first place, would American tax dollars be going to a Chinese communist lab that was conducting some of the world’s most dangerous research in a laboratory that we knew three or four years ago had very low, sloppy safety practices.”
“It was extremely reckless,” he said. “Tony Fauci may be a good scientist, but he doesn’t seem to know much about constitutional self-government.”
Cotton said Fauci “was disrespectful to the United States Senate today, and he appears to have disregarded the direction of the Obama White House five or six years ago, as well.”
On Wednesday, a group of House Republicans planned to introduce a bill that effectively would fire Fauci titled Fauci’s Incompetence Requires Early Dismissal, or FIRED, Fox News reported
Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, is joined Reps. Chip Roy, R-Texas, Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Ralph Norman, R-S.C., and others as sponsors.
“Few people have earned their termination more visibly,” Davidson said in a statement to Fox News. “His excessively long tenure is emblematic of Eisenhower’s farewell address caution against scientific-technical elite steering the country for their own ends — at odds with truth and the national interest.”
The bill has no chance of succeeding in the Democratic-majority House, but it reflects a growing frustration with Fauci, the CDC and other Biden administration health officials.
That frustration extends to moderate Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
She rebuked CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday during a hearing and said she’s lost respect for the agency.
“I used to have the utmost respect for the guidance from the CDC. I always considered the CDC to be the gold standard. I don’t anymore,” Collins said. “The conflicting, confusing guidance from your agency has undermined public confidence and contradicts the scientific guidance of many experts.”
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