During May and June, both Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) —one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH)— and Dr. Francis Collins, NIH director, told Congress that the NIH had not funded the controversial gain of function in bats at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). It turns out that was a false statement, according to a senior NIH official.
Lawrence A. Tabak, senior deputy director of the National Institutes of Health, wrote a letter to Rep. James Comer (R-KY) blaming EcoHealth Alliance for violating NIH grant AI110964 and admitting that, through the grant program awarded to the nonprofit organization, they funded the gain of function that went forward at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Tabak said in the letter that EcoHealth’s “limited experiment” tested whether “spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.” The NIH principal deputy director said in the missive that laboratory mice infected with the modified virus “became sicker” than those that received the unmodified virus.
In the text, Tabak justified the NIH by saying that “as sometimes occurs in science, this was an unexpected result of the research, as opposed to something that the researchers set out to do.”
This NIH grant program to EcoHealth represented $3.1 million that was paid over a five-year period (2014 and 2019). The Trump administration decided to discontinue it in April 2020. The grant directed $599,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research.
Gain-of-function, in short, is an experiment that involves genetically altering a virus to boost it and make it more contagious. The idea of this study, according to the scientists, is to use the viruses in humanized guinea pigs to analyze reactions and how this may affect humans. However, the scientific community agrees that gain-of-function is a risky experiment and part of it argues that the risks of doing so are too great and mankind should not run them.
Since the theory of the origin of COVID-19 through natural jumping between species has not yet been proven, and since it has not been possible to find out exactly where and how it originated, the hypothesis that the Wuhan coronavirus may have arisen from a laboratory accident in Wuhan has gained a lot of traction, even within the scientific community.
Harsh criticism of Fauci
Richard H. Ebright, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, said on Twitter that “the NIH–specifically, Collins, Fauci, and Tabak–lied to Congress, lied to the press, and lied to the public. Knowingly. Willfully. Brazenly.”
Likewise, Republican Senator Rand Paul, who on several occasions had taken aim at Fauci for the role gain, seized on Tabak’s letter to recall his accusations against the NIAID director: “‘I told you so’ doesn’t even begin to cover it here.”
Paul also charged that despite the Trump administration canceling the grant in 2020, the grant was reinstated and will remain in effect until 2025. “Realize that NIH is still funding Ecohealth collaboration with Wuhan thru 2025. Fauci has publicly stated his support for Continuing US taxpayer funding of Wuhan.”
Another NIH controversy was also generated this Thursday the 22nd because user Jeremy Redfern, a man retired from the explosive ordnance disposal section according to his Twitter bio, revealed that the NIH changed the concept of “gain of function” they had on their website.
“For those that don’t know, this is how the NIH defined ‘gain-of-function’ on their website until at least October 19th, 2021. Just 3 days ago. It looks like this section was deleted, and the page was edited, within the last 2-3 days,” Redgern said, attaching several screenshots in a Twitter thread that already has more than 2,000 retweets and 4,000 likes.