Fauci, NIH Still Have Questions to Answer on Coronavirus Funding, Outbreak

Given the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, in both the tragic loss of countless lives and its crippling economic impact, it is essential that we work to uncover its origins. We must ensure that those responsible are held accountable, and that such an outbreak can never happen again. I began that work as Secretary of State; continuing it to its conclusion is imperative. However, inquiries for access to important sites and information in China from the United States and the world have been met with stiff resistance. The Trump Administration’s own demands to investigate the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) were vehemently denied by the Chinese Communist Party. Our own top public health officials have decried the connection between WIV and the outbreak as mere “ opinion ,” and not really credible, despite the enormous amount of evidence suggesting such a connection, even misleading the United States Congress on our connection to those activities. Last week a revelatory letter from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to Congressman James Comer (KY-1) shed important light on this issue. The letter finally confirmed that the NIH did indeed fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It explains that the NIH awarded a grant to the organization EcoHealth Alliance, an American research non-profit, which included awarding funding meant for coronavirus research at the Wuhan lab. Specifically, the WIV was undertaking experiments with the goal of examining whether “spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.” In other words, the lab was genetically altering viruses found in animals in order to make them transmissible to humans. This is the commonly accepted definition of “gain-of-function” research. Yet earlier this year, Dr. Fauci adamantly denied the NIH had ever funded such experiments at WIV. He told Senator Rand Paul that “The NIH has not ever, and does not now fund gain-of-function in the Wuhan Institute.” He scoffed at Senator Paul’s honest line of questioning regarding such research, dismissively telling him, “You do not know what you are talking about.” It was clear then, and it is certainly clear now, that Senator Paul and others in congress were asking the right questions. The new NIH letter brings to our attention some important information. First, as noted, there was in fact gain-of-function research going on at the Wuhan lab involving bat coronaviruses. The letter is careful to note that the viruses being studied as part of the grant were “genetically very distant” from the strain of virus responsible for the pandemic. However, the letter also indicates that there is still a fair amount the NIH does not know about the lab’s work, even regarding the grant in question: “EcoHealth failed to report this finding right away, as was required by the terms of the grant. EcoHealth is being notified that they have five days from today to submit any and all unpublished data from the experiments and work conducted under this award. Additional compliance efforts continue.” It is critical that leaders in Congress are given this information as well so that we can ensure the American people’s tax dollars did not fund dangerous research programs which could have led to the current pandemic. This letter demonstrates that, at the very least, there is clearly a fair amount of information that NIH and Dr. Fauci either do not currently know or simply refuse to share with the American people. The EcoHealth grant described was obviously used to fund gain-of-function research at WIV in China. Even if that research was not ultimately connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, it proves that such research was being undertaken at the lab, even after U.S. public servants had expressed their concern that the safety standards at WIV were not sufficient for the work being undertaken there. Additional investigation into exactly what happened at the WIV and NIH and EcoHealth’s connection is essential in proving who should be held accountable for a pandemic that took the lives of millions, wrecked the world and United States economies, and has cost so many the loss of a year or more of their normal lives and freedoms. Uncovering the source of the COVID-19 pandemic is a bipartisan issue. It must supersede the egos and reputations of some of our highly appointed public health officials, who continue to have important questions to answer regarding whether American dollars funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab. American leaders must take the lead in holding these officials accountable. We should follow the investigative trail as well as following the science. At the ACLJ, we have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Biden Administration to learn more about exactly this kind of withholding information from the American people on the origins of COVID-19, including the funding of gain-of-function research in China.