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‘No Doubt’ American Tax Dollars Funded Gain-of-Function Research at Wuhan Lab: Ex-CDC Director

Former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. tax dollars had funded dangerous gain-of function research at a Chinese laboratory at the center of the COVID-19 controversy.

Redfield made the remark while responding to questions during a March 8 session of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R.N.Y.), asked former CDC officials if that was probable “American tax dollars funded the gain-of-function research that created this virus?” This refers to the idea that COVID-19 was a pathogen which leaked out of a Wuhan laboratory.

“I think it did,” Redfield responded, saying that he believed funds for risky research were from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies.

Taxpayer-Funded Gain-of-Function Research?

The view that American tax dollars funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has been disputed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, former NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, and others.

Gain-of function research is a method of altering the pathogen’s properties, including its virulence. This allows researchers to examine its possible impact on human health. Because it increases the risk of viruses becoming deadly, such research can be controversial.

For some time the debate surrounding whether U.S. taxes were used in China for gain-of-function research was hot.

“No one knows exactly what counts as gain-of-function, so we disagree as to what needs oversight, much less what that oversight should be,” said Nicholas Evans, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, who specializes in biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, in remarks to ASBMB Today.

The aerial view of the Wuhan Institute of Virology P4 lab in Wuhan (China’s central Hubei Province) on April 17, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

However, some scientists view it more as a cut-and-dry matter. Richard Ebright is a Rutgers University molecular biologist. He claims that the research was a gain-of function and Fauci and other researchers lied to claim it wasn’t.

“The materials confirm the grants supported the construction—in Wuhan—of novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses that combined a spike gene from one coronavirus with genetic information from another coronavirus, and confirmed the resulting viruses could infect human cells,” Ebright wrote on Twitter.

He was referring to Freedom of Information Act documents obtained by The Intercept, detailing the work of the EcoHealth AllianceAmerican-based health organisation, that funded research at Wuhan’s Chinese lab into coronaviruses using federal money.

“The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH 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 [the Wuhan Institute of Virology] are untruthful,” He added.

Fauci repeatedly claimed that the funding did not amount to gain-offunction research. Both NIAID and NIH have refuted this claim.

“The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Fauci said at a Senate hearing on May 11, 2021.

Collins said in a statement on May 19 that “neither NIH nor NIAID have ever approved any grant that would have supported ‘gain-of-function’ research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans.”

Energy Department Backs Lab Leak Theorie

The question of whether American taxpayers funded gain-of-function research in China has come back into sharper focus after the U.S. Energy Department—which oversees a network of 17 laboratories in the United States—concluded that the virus that causes COVID-19 likely leaked from the Wuhan lab.

After it was revealed that the Energy Department had altered its initial assessment of the origins of the pandemic, the hearing at Capitol Hill was set.

Even though the two-year mark has passed since the outbreak of the pandemic, scientists remain strong supporters of the natural origin hypothesis.

While some U.S. agencies lean toward the natural origin theory, the Energy Department has joined the FBI in assessing that COVID-19 likely originated in the Wuhan lab.

Redfield’s testimony also addresses the topic of lab leakage theory.

“Even given the information that’s surfaced in the three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, some have contended that there is really no point in investigating the origins of this virus. I strongly disagree. There is a global need to know what we are dealing with in COVID-19 virus because it affects how we approach the problem to try to prevent the next pandemic,” He wrote this in his opening statement.

He stated that the evidence supports the laboratory leak theory and because gain-offunction research was being done at Wuhan on coronaviruses, it should be stopped.

“Gain-of-function research has long been controversial within the scientific community, and, in my own opinion, the COVID-19 pandemic presents a case study on the potential dangers of such research. While many believe that gain-of-function research is critical to get ahead of viruses by developing vaccines, in this case, I believe it was the exact opposite, unleashing a new virus on the world without any means of stopping it and resulting in the deaths of millions of people,” He stated.

“Because of this, it is my opinion that we should call for a moratorium on gain-of-function research until we have a broader debate and we come to a consensus as a community about the value of gain-of-function research. This debate should not be limited to the scientific community. If the decision is to continue gain-of-function research then it must be determined how and where to conduct this research in a safe, responsible, and effective way.”

Seven out of eleven scientists are either virologists, or have a similar field. asked by Intercept inquired about documents obtained by EcoHealth Alliance regarding funding for virus research. The Intercept stated that these documents meet the NIH criteria.

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Continue reading more ‘No Doubt’ American Tax Dollars Funded Gain-of-Function Research at Wuhan Lab: Ex-CDC Director


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