New details to emerge surrounding Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) grant approval for high-risk experiments overseas contradicts the agency director’s repeated denials under oath about whether the NIAID had funded “gain-of-function” research.
On Monday, the Intercept reported findings from 900 pages of material released from an active Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that details the work of the New York-based non-profit EcoHealth Alliance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trove of documents, according to the Intercept, uncovered new specifics into a pair of grant proposals that received U.S. tax dollars from Fauci’s NIAID.
While the existence of the first grant awarded to EcoHealth Alliance, “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” had already been reported and used to challenge Dr. Fauci for NIAID funding for gain-of-function research, documents from The Intercept expanded the public scope of the research conducted in Wuhan beyond bats. The annual grant of roughly $600,000 ran from 2014 to 2019. For the first three years of the grant, funding for “gain-of-function” research — wherein scientists extract viruses from the wild and engineer them to infect humans to study potential therapeutics such as vaccines — was banned.
Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, explained to The Intercept, “the viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell.” There were also two different types of novel coronaviruses, Ebright said, that the documents made clear could infect humanized mice. “While they were working on SARS-related coronavirus, they were carrying out a parallel project at the same time on [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome]-related coronavirus.”
The bat coronavirus studies supported with taxpayer dollars through EcoHealth in an apparent effort to circumvent the U.S. moratorium on gain-of-function research began to make headlines early this year as the pandemic waned in the sunset of effective vaccines. The research conducted in Wuhan, the site of the first COVID-19 outbreak, has long drawn scrutiny as likely spawning the virus that infected more than 220 million people worldwide — in a theory first dismissed as a conspiracy by the political establishment until this summer.
In May, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul challenged Dr. Fauci on the issue before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
“Gain-of-function research, as you know, is juicing up naturally occurring animal viruses to infect humans,” Paul said. “To arrive at the truth, the U.S. government should admit that the Wuhan Virology Institute was experimenting to enhance the coronavirus’s ability to infect humans.”
.@RandPaul: "Dr. Fauci, do you still support…NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?"
Dr. Anthony Fauci: "Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect…"
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 11, 2021
Dr. Fauci, who has led the NIAID since 1984, emphatically denied Paul’s accusation.
“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely, and completely incorrect,” Fauci said. “The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
The two sparred again over the issue two months later, where Fauci repeatedly denied the U.S. government funded gain-of-function research under his purview.
“Dr. Fauci, as you are aware, it is a crime to lie to Congress,” Paul said, and pressed the NIAID director on whether the doctor would retract statements from May denying involvement with gain-of-function.
WATCH: Complete exchange between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Senator @RandPaul.
Dr. Fauci: "Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about." pic.twitter.com/2wFbAxicI2
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 20, 2021
“Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about,” said a visibly frustrated Dr. Fauci used to the cheerleading questions of a friendly press.
On this question, yes.
— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) September 7, 2021
Prominent Republicans on Capitol Hill, from Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn to Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, began to call for Dr. Fauci’s resignation weeks after the first exchange with Sen. Paul, when the NIAID director’s emails became public showing Fauci aggressively sought to suppress COVID-19 origin theories of a possible lab leak in Wuhan.
Fauci has maintained his popularity among Democrats and the White House thanks to a friendly press corps wielded to manufacture a false consensus among public health officials that embraces never-ending pandemic lockdowns.
When Fauci’s emails became public, the political doctor’s first interview was given to MSNBC where he was showered with praise by the network’s Nicolle Wallace.
“I read through your emails that were released,” Wallace said, emphasizing Fauci passed “the test very few of us would pass” where “the true mark of someone is if they look good even when their personal emails come out.”
MSNBC’s @NicolleDWallace scores the first interview w/ Fauci since his emails were made public and uses it to say: “The true mark of someone is if they look good even when their personal emails come out, so you pass the test very few of us would pass." pic.twitter.com/SNMXBrXm5v
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 2, 2021
The media-savvy doctor repeated his routine of friendly media appearances immediately after scandalous reporting on Tuesday. Fauci said down with CNN’s Jim Sciutto to complain instead about the nation moving on from Fauci’s orders with shots at Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Today in Journalism
CNN’s @jimsciutto lands interview w/ Dr Fauci & doesn’t ask about @theintercept’s bombshell reporting he lied under oath re funding China’s gain-of-function research that likely led to creation of Covid19. (Instead he asks him tee off against @GovRonDeSantis) pic.twitter.com/NngfBC9DV4
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 7, 2021