A top microbiologist says Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, did not tell the truth in claiming his agency did not fund dangerous gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Richard Ebright, chief of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University, leveled the charge after evaluating government documents obtained by the Intercept. He also fingered Francis Collins, Fauci’s boss and head of the National Institutes for Health. Collins also denied funding the potentially catastrophic lab work. The men were, Ebright says, “untruthful.”
Published on September 6, the revelations put Fauci under more pressure to come clean and resign. Gain of function is genetic manipulation that enhances the ability of viruses to infect human beings. Experts believe an enhanced virus escaped the lab in infected lab workers and spread around the globe.
Fox News and Newsweek disclosed the U.S. subsidies for the lab last year. But the Intercept obtained 900 pages of new documents that concern EcoHealth Alliance, the outfit that funneled taxpayer money from NIH to the Wuhan institute. Included in the tome were two unpublished grant proposals.
One grant, Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence, “outlines an ambitious effort led by EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak to screen thousands of bat samples for novel coronaviruses,” the website reported:
The research also involved screening people who work with live animals. The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed. The documents raise additional questions about the theory that the pandemic may have begun in a lab accident, an idea that Daszak has aggressively dismissed.
The bat coronavirus grant provided EcoHealth Alliance with a total of $3.1 million, including $599,000 that the Wuhan Institute of Virology used in part to identify and alter bat coronaviruses likely to infect humans. Even before the pandemic, many scientists were concerned about the potential dangers associated with such experiments. The grant proposal acknowledges some of those dangers: “Fieldwork involves the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, while working in caves with high bat density overhead and the potential for fecal dust to be inhaled.”
Ever since the pandemic struck almost two years ago, Daszak has said the virus did not escape from a lab in Wuhan. But multiple reports, including one from the minority staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have all but established the lab-leak hypothesis as fact.
Though Daszak’s outfit funded the mad science in Wuhan, Daszak joined the team from the World Health Organization that exonerated the institute as the origin of the pandemic. He has also claimed that the lab-leak hypothesis is a “conspiracy theory.”
Now we know that Fauci — through Daszak — funded gain of function. The lab used it to enhance viruses.
“The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell,” Ebright wrote to the Intercept:
Ebright also said the documents make it clear that two different types of novel coronaviruses were able to infect humanized mice. “While they were working on SARS-related coronavirus, they were carrying out a parallel project at the same time on MERS-related coronavirus,” Ebright said, referring to the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
The Big Lies
Questioned by GOP Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Fauci has lied twice in sworn testimony when he denied subsidizing gain-of-function research. Paul has already asked the Department of Justice to investigate Fauci, whom the media have depicted as the only man who can save humanity from the virus his agency helped create.
But Collins fibbed, too, when he claimed that “neither NIH nor NIAID have ever approved any grant that would have supported ‘gain-of-function’ research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans.”
In a long Twitter thread about the Intercept report, Ebright explained what went on at the labs.
“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,” Ebright wrote:
The materials reveal that the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses also could infect mice engineered to display human receptors on cells (“humanized mice”).
The materials further reveal for the first time that one of the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses — one not been previously disclosed publicly — was more pathogenic to humanized mice than the starting virus from which it was constructed …
… and thus not only was reasonably anticipated to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity, but, indeed, was *demonstrated* to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity.
Thus, he concluded, “the documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful.”
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri expects Fauci to resign. “Anthony Fauci has repeatedly and deliberately mislead Congress and the American people,” he tweeted:
Resign. And face a congressional inquiry