On Wednesday, Dr. Richard Ebright, Rutgers University microbiologist, testified before the U.S. Senate, claiming that top public health officials lied about dangerous gain-of-function research experiments conducted in China.
Ebright testified that the National Institutes of Health and other U.S. federal agencies funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology without proper oversight. His claim directly contradicts those made by many officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s chief medical advisor who has repeatedly dismissed the claims as lies.
Ebright testified that research funded by federal agencies at the WIV in the 2010s violated an NIH pause on gain-of-function research funding between 2014 and 2017.
The microbiologist also claimed that, after the pause ended in 2017, gain-of-function projects which continued did not properly go through the agency’s regulatory process for oversight.
NIH and other federal agencies funded experiments in the 2010s at the WIV which made bat-based coronaviruses more dangerous by increasing their lethality and infectiousness. According to the definition of gain-of-function research, those experiments should’ve either fallen under gain-of-function oversight processes or been banned by the funding party.
“Gain-of-function research of concern involves the creation of new health threats–health threats that did not exist previously and that might not have come to exist by natural means for tens, hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of years,” Ebright said.
“The statements made on repeated occasions to the public, to the press and to policymakers by the NIAID director, Dr. Fauci, have been untruthful. I do not understand why those statements are being made because they are demonstrably false,” Ebright explained Wednesday.
Ebright’s assertion that the NIH-funded research is gain-of-function work directly contradicts previous testimony by Fauci before the U.S. Senate.
“The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Fauci said in May 2021. “Dr. Baric does not do gain of function research and if it is, it is according to the guidelines and is being conducted in North Carolina, not in China.”
Fauci was discussing Dr. Ralph Baric who conducted experiments with researchers at the WIV which made bat-based viruses more dangerous.
Wednesday’s hearing was the first that lawmakers have had on the topic of gain-of-function research and was led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who has been a major opponent of Fauci.
Last year, Paul passed a permanent ban on gain-of-function research from the WIV, which was greeted with cheers from the Senate building.
“We don’t know whether the pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan or evolved naturally,” Paul said in a press release at the time. “While many still deny funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan, experts believe otherwise. The passage of my amendment ensures that this never happens in the future. No taxpayer money should have ever been used to fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan, and now we permanently have put it to a stop.”
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