WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images)
J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

By ANDREW KERR

  • Two subordinates of Dr. Anthony Fauci raised concerns in May 2016 that taxpayer dollars may be funding gain-of-function experiments on bat coronaviruses at a Wuhan lab, but dropped the issue after nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance downplayed the concerns, documents show.
  • The National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases staffers reversed course after requesting EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak submitted a “determination” to the agency that downplayed the risks of his proposed experiments, the records show.
  • “The NIH, incredibly, accepted EcoHealth’s belief that this work would not be considered gain of function, and accepted EcoHealth’s rationale for this belief,” Rutgers University professor Richard Ebright told the DCNF.
  • Daszak also notified NIAID staffers in a June 27, 2016, email that he was reliant on Wuhan Institute of Virology researcher Shi Zhengli, who has known ties with the Chinese military, to notify him if their lab-created viruses exhibited enhanced replication.
  • The records were obtained by the White Coat Waste Project as the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and provided exclusively to the DCNF.

Two subordinates of Dr. Anthony Fauci raised concerns in May 2016 that a taxpayer-funded grant may include gain-of-function experiments on bat coronaviruses at a Wuhan lab, but dropped the issue after nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance downplayed the concerns, documents obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation show.

National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Disease staffers Jenny Greer and Erik Stemmy told EcoHealth in a May 28, 2016, letter that a proposed grant “may include” gain of function research, according to documents obtained through a White Coat Waste Project information request.

The letter requested EcoHealth provide its own “determination” as to whether its proposed experiments in Wuhan included gain of function research.

EcoHealth President Peter Daszak submitted his “determination” to the NIAID in a June 8, 2016 letter that downplayed potential risks associated with his group’s proposed research in Wuhan, which involved the creation of lab-made chimeric coronavirus, and denied it involved gain of function.

The NIAID then gave Daszak the opportunity to submit an amended version of his letter on June 27, 2016, after discovering a factual error in the initial filing, emails show. The agency then used Daszak’s revised letter, which kept the original June 8 filing date, as the basis of its own determination on July 7 that EcoHealth’s research did not involve gain of function.

Rutgers University Professor Richard Ebright told the DCNF that the NIAID’s May 28, 2016, letter to EcoHealth proves that Fauci was “untruthful in his testimony to Congress” that NIH staff concluded up and down the line that the EcoHealth grant did not include gain of function research.

“The NIH, incredibly, accepted EcoHealth’s belief that this work would not be considered gain of function, and accepted EcoHealth’s rationale for this belief, and accepted EcoHealth’s policy-noncompliant proposal for a [10 times] allowance for increased viral growth before stopping work and reporting results,” Ebright said.

“The NIH, in effect, delegated to EcoHealth Alliance the authority to determine whether its research was, or was not gain of function research subject to the funding pause, the authority to set criteria for the determination, and the authority to over-ride federal policies implemented by the White House in 2014-2017 and by HHS in 2017-present,” Ebright added.

Daszak’s letter to the NIAID on June 8, 2016, argued that EcoHealth’s proposed experiments in Wuhan were not gain of function in part because the WIV1 bat coronavirus they planned to use as the basis of their lab-made viruses “has never been demonstrated to infect humans or cause human disease.”

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