By DYLAN HOUSMAN, HEALTHCARE REPORTER | August 03, 2022
Rutgers University microbiologist Dr. Richard Ebright testified before the U.S. Senate Wednesday that top public health officials lied about dangerous gain-of-function (GoF) research experiments conducted in China. Ebright testified that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other U.S. federal agencies funded research that fit the definition of GoF at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) without proper oversight. His claim directly contradicts those made by numerous public health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Specifically, Ebright testified that research funded by federal agencies at the WIV in the 2010s violated an NIH pause on GoF research funding between 2014 and 2017. After the pause was lifted in 2017, Ebright claimed that GoF projects which continued did not properly go through the agency’s regulatory process for oversight. NIH and other federal agencies funded various experiments in the 2010s at the WIV which made bat-based coronaviruses more dangerous by increasing their fatality and infectiousness. According to the strict definition of GoF research, those experiments should’ve fallen under the GoF oversight process or been banned by the funding moratorium.
“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 GoF 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 referring at the time to research done by University of North Carolina scientist Dr. Ralph Baric. Baric conducted experiments with researchers at the WIV which made bat-based viruses more dangerous. (RELATED: ‘That’s Not Science, That’s Conjecture’: Rand Paul Goes After Fauci Over Vaccines)
Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has frequently clashed with Fauci over whether or not the federal government funded GoF research. Fauci called Paul “entirely and completely incorrect” on the subject.
Wednesday’s hearing, initiated by Paul, was the first American lawmakers held regarding the subject of GoF research. Some experts have theorized that the COVID-19 pandemic could have been spawned by the research taking place at the WIV, claiming it’s possible that the virus leaked from the lab after experimentation by researchers. The epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic began just blocks away from the WIV.