By Andrew Kerr
A trove of newly released documents detailing U.S.-funded coronavirus research in China prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that Dr. Anthony Fauci was “untruthful” when he claimed that his agency did not finance gain-of-research in Wuhan, an infectious disease expert said Sunday.
Documents published by The Intercept on Sunday show that Fauci’s organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), provided federal funds to the U.S. nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology to construct laboratory-generated SARS and MERS-related coronaviruses that demonstrated enhanced pathogenicity in humanized mice cells, according to Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard Ebright.
“The documents make it clear that assertions by the [National Institutes of Health] 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,” Ebright said in a tweet Sunday evening.
Fauci said during a congressional hearing in May that the NIH and NIAID “categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Ebright and other experts have described EcoHealth Alliance’s work with the WIV as gain-of-function research. Ebright previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the NIH has “systematically thwarted” the federal government’s oversight of dangerous pathogen research by failing to flag research grants for review by a Department of Health and Human Services review board.
Fauci’s insistence that the EcoHealth Alliance research grant with the WIV did not involve gain-of-function research led Republican Sen. Rand Paul to send a criminal referral to the Department of Justice in July to investigate whether Fauci lied before Congress.
Ebright said Sunday that the documents published by The Intercept show that one of the novel SARS-related coronaviruses created at the biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment was proven to be more pathogenic to humanized mice than the original virus from which it was constructed.
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…
— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) September 7, 2021
The documents also show that the NIAID-funded research in Wuhan supported the construction of novel MERS-related coronavirus, Ebright said.
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is far more deadly than SARS, with about one in three known human cases resulting in death, according to the World Health Organization.
“Surprise surprise – Fauci lied again,” Paul tweeted Monday. “And I was right about his agency funding novel coronavirus research at Wuhan.”
Surprise surprise – Fauci lied again
And I was right about his agency funding novel Coronavirus research at Wuhan.
Read this thread and the papers released. https://t.co/zQizKXLdbd
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 7, 2021
Broad Institute molecular biologist Alina Chan told The Intercept that the documents prove that EcoHealth Alliance has reason to treat the theory that COVID-19 could have leaked from a Chinese lab seriously.
“In this proposal, they actually point out that they know how risky this work is,” Chan said. “They keep talking about people potentially getting bitten — and they kept records of everyone who got bitten. Does EcoHealth have those records? And if not, how can they possibly rule out a research-related accident?”
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