Dr. Anthony Fauci has become the face of the United States’ COVID-19 response. Before the coronavirus pandemic devastated the world, however, Dr. Fauci discussed the potential disastrous security implications of publishing research on enhancing viral transmission, so-called “gain-of function” research.
If such research fell into the hands of U.S. adversaries, such as terrorists or rogue states, members of Congress and the global health community feared, viruses could be weaponized to deal a tremendous amount of damage to target societies.
Dr. Fauci testified before the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee in 2012 and fully acknowledged such dangers. Nonetheless, the agency that Dr. Fauci heads, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), would go on to indirectly fund such “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute for Technology, which is based in one of the worst human-rights-abusing regimes on the planet: Communist China.
On Tuesday, after dodging questions before Congress on the matter, Dr. Fauci finally conceded that the National Institutes of Health earmarked $600,000 for the Wuhan institute over a five-year-period to study if bat viruses could be transmitted to humans. Dr. Fauci told a House Appropriations subcommittee that the money was ‘funneled to the Chinese lab through the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance’ to fund “a modest collaboration with very respectable Chinese scientists who were world experts on coronavirus.”
Fauci categorically denied that gain-of-function research was funded by the NIH. The highly visible public health bureaucrat defined such research as “taking a virus that could infect humans and making it either more transmissible and/or pathogenic for humans.”
In 2012, Dr. Fauci discussed such “dual research” on viral “gain of function,” which has implications for bioweapon security.
Before reviewing the testimony, however, it is vitally important to briefly understand the purpose of calling Dr. Fauci to testify before Congress, as stated by the Chairman, Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman.
The researchers that I referred to, based both at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and at the University of Wisconsin, announced that they were going to publish the results of their studies in the journal, Science and Nature. This set off what I would call a global ethics debate in the scientific community about whether to publish or not publish these results, and if the experiments, which were funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), should have been undertaken at all.
On the one hand, there are those who say that getting this information out could help other scientists better understand the mutant strain so they could prepare for a possible pandemic by looking for natural mutations and developing vaccines and medications. The fact that these two research teams were able to create this new strain from existing genetic material means that nature could create it, as well. In fact, many scientists said that that was quite likely.
But given the lethality of the virus, others argued that publishing the results would create a huge security risk because it would offer a blueprint for a deadly biological weapon to rogue states or terrorists, and, of course, that is where this Committee’s interest is drawn because of our responsibility for homeland security. In a recent speech at a biological weapons conference in Geneva, Secretary of State Clinton warned that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had, in fact, issued a call for “brothers with degrees in microbiology or chemistry to develop a weapon of mass destruction.” And, of course, there is also a danger that the manufactured strain might somehow escape, so to speak, from the laboratory, which is something we have worried about in the past.
Dr. Fauci would discuss this matter at length in his testimony. The most relevant parts of his testimony are provided below.
“For decades, NIH has supported basic influenza research included on transmissibility, host adaptation, and virulence,” Fauci said. “The goal is to anticipate what the virus is continually trying to do on its own in the wild and to prepare for it. Such goals were pursued by the NIH-funded scientists Kawaoka and Fouchier and could have important positive implications for pandemic influenza prediction, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.”
Fauci would go on to discuss an experiment with the H5N1 avian flu virus that was adapted to be hosted by ferrets with the aim of attempting to ‘aerosolize’ transmission.
“We feel that these studies provide critical information and it was important to determine if H5N1 virus that has this enhanced transmissibility would remain sensitive to existing anti-influenza drugs and vaccines,” Fauci continued. “In addition, and importantly, knowledge of the genetic mutations that facilitate transmission may be critical for global surveillance of
emerging influenza viruses.”
“Yet since transmissibility of a virulent virus was increased, this constitutes dual-use research of concern (DURC), which is shown on this poster,” Fauci added, then defended such research. “If a particular research experiment is identified as DURC, that designation does not necessarily mean that such research should not be published, nor should it even be prohibited in the first place. However, it does call for us, as you mentioned, to balance carefully the benefit of the research to the public health, the biosafety and biosecurity conditions under which the research is conducted, and the potential risk that the knowledge gained from such research might fall into the hands of those with ill intent.”
The NIH would nonetheless proceed to provide funding for coronavirus research in Communist China, a notoriously opaque regime that is well-known as a human rights violator and regional aggressor against peoples in Tibet, Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong.
Following Dr. Fauci’s testimony, the National Institutes of Health “paused” viral gain-of-function research in 2014, but that three-year-pause was lifted in December 2017, during the first year of the Trump administration.
While the U.S. media shielded the Chinese regime from public scrutiny, flagging reports about a potential Wuhan lab leak as a “conspiracy theory,” the lack of evidence for the natural development of COVID-19 continued to be appreciable.
“Natural emergence was the media’s preferred theory until around February 2021 and the visit by a World Health Organization (WHO) commission to China,” the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) noted. “The commission’s composition and access were heavily controlled by the Chinese authorities. Its members, who included the ubiquitous (Dr. Peter) Daszak, kept asserting before, during, and after their visit that lab escape was extremely unlikely. But this was not quite the propaganda victory the Chinese authorities may have been hoping for. What became clear was that the Chinese had no evidence to offer the commission in support of the natural emergence theory.”
The U.S. media’s preferred narrative, that the novel coronavirus developed at a “wet market,” or even from “bat soup,” failed to meet even a reasonable thresholdof credibility, let alone be considered the ‘definitive’ explanation.
“Yet some 15 months after the SARS2 pandemic began, and after a presumably intensive search, Chinese researchers had failed to find either the original bat population, or the intermediate species to which SARS2 might have jumped, or any serological evidence that any Chinese population, including that of Wuhan, had ever been exposed to the virus prior to December 2019,” the BAS continued. “Natural emergence remained a conjecture which, however plausible to begin with, had gained not a shred of supporting evidence in over a year.”
The floodgates have since opened that further add weight to the potential of a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Technology. On Sunday, a report broke that U.S. intelligence had identified three Wuhan lab workers who fell ill in November 2019.
“Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
It is interesting that such leaks come out now, nearly a year after the former president had flagged such an explanation for the viral pandemic, which led to tremendous economic damage and loss-of-life for the United States. China would gain control of the pandemic in astonishingly rapid time, leading to an economic resurgennce, suggesting that the Chinese had advanced knowledge of how to develop an effective vaccine. It shared the genetic sequence for COVID-19 in January 2020, which was accompanied by the demonstrable lie that there was no evidence of human-to-human spread. China publicly began vaccine research in early 2020 and had approved COVID-19 vaccines in June 2020.
The COVID-19 outbreak’s timing, the rapid development of vaccines, the media’s cover-up operation, the lack of pressure on China from the U.S. government to resolve the deadly serious ethical issues, and the political exploitation of the pandemic in the United States raise extremely critical questions that must have answers.
On Friday, Rep. Steve Scalise was joined by over 200 Republicans in demanding Speaker Pelosi commission a probe to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak and the possibility that it was developed at the Wuhan laboratory.
Dr. Fauci also admitted this week that he has no way of knowing if the researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Technology lied and were pursuing gain-of-function research on coronaviruses.
“There’s no way of guaranteeing that,” Fauci said. But that is precisely the kind of accountability that funding such implicitly dangerous research demands.
The claims that COVID-19 was developed at the Wuhan Institute of Technology due to “gain of function” research, including “retro-engineering” the virus, is gaining traction in the absence of natural explanations.
“An explosive new study claims that Chinese scientists created COVID-19 in a Wuhan lab, then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats,” the Daily Mail noted on the academic study, which points out the virus has “no known natural ancestor.”
“The paper’s authors, British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen, wrote that they have had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year – but were ignored by academics and major journals,” the report continued.
But not only did the scientific community ignore such studies, and failed to question the research being carried out at the Wuhan Institute of Technology, on the whole, the Biden administration even ended a State Department initiative to find out the truth of the matter.
“President Joe Biden’s team shut down a closely-held State Department effort launched late in the Trump administration to prove the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab over concerns about the quality of its work, according to three sources familiar with the decision,” CNN reported on Wednesday.
“The existence of the State Department inquiry and its termination this spring by the Biden administration — neither of which has been previously reported — comes to light amid renewed interest in whether the virus could have leaked out of a Wuhan lab with links to the Chinese military,” the report continued. “The Biden administration is also facing scrutiny of its own efforts to determine if the Chinese government was responsible for the virus.”
Nicholas Wade, a science writer whose work has appeared at such publications as “Science” and “Nature,” laid out the role the U.S. scientific community may have had in fostering the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Virologists like Dr. Daszak [mentioned above] had much at stake in the assigning of blame for the pandemic,” Wade writes. “For 20 years, mostly beneath the public’s attention, they had been playing a dangerous game. In their laboratories they routinely created viruses more dangerous than those that exist in nature. They argued they could do so safely, and that by getting ahead of nature they could predict and prevent natural ‘spillovers,’ the cross-over of viruses from an animal host to people. If SARS2 had indeed escaped from such a laboratory experiment, a savage blowback could be expected, and the storm of public indignation would affect virologists everywhere, not just in China.”
It appears that the American public is on the threshold of such “public indignation.” Dr. Rand Paul, who has persistently questioned Dr. Fauci and public health experts who have recommended restrictive COVID responses measures, is now demanding accountability.
“The nicest way to say this, I think he’s obfuscating the truth,” Senator Rand Paul told the Christian Broadcasting Network on Tuesday. “The people who supported funding for gain-of-function, the creation of super viruses, who supported funding for the Wuhan institute, should immediately be relieved of their responsibilities… Dr. Fauci should go.”
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.