Opinion: New evidence Fauci lied about coronavirus research

ben weingarten
Conservative Opinion

Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow
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While COVID-19’s origin remains unclear, we are learning more and more that our public health officials are not telling the truth about coronavirus research. In a hotly debated letter to Congress, the National Institutes of Health explained it funded tests at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to determine if bat coronaviruses could bind to humans. While the NIH says that that bat coronavirus could not have become SARS-CoV-2, the newest revelations raise a long list of questions about exactly what happened in that lab in China and how much Dr. Anthony Fauci and his colleagues knew.

Earlier this summer we asked a basic question: Did Dr. Anthony Fauci perjure himself when he claimed the National Institutes of Health did not fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China?

We marshaled a whole raft of evidence indicating he did: that from 2014 to 2019 the NIH funneled several million dollars to WIV through the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance; that some of that money was spent researching bat coronaviruses; and that that research included genetically modifying bat coronaviruses—something the NIH never ran by the Department of Health and Human Services for evaluating its safety because, per an NIH spokesman, “it did not involve the enhancement of the pathogenicity or transmissibility of the viruses studied.” In other words, in their opinion it wasn’t gain of function research—nothing to see there.

Well now we have more proof Dr. Fauci was lying—at least if you consider creating chimeric strains of viruses, and testing how infectious they are for humans, to be gain-of-function research.

In a bombshell letter from the NIH to Congress, and an accompanying analysis, the NIH spells out that it was studying “chimeric viruses” in a bid “to understand how animal coronaviruses, especially bat coronaviruses, evolve naturally in the environment and have the potential to become transmissible to the human population.”

According to the letter:

The [so-called] limited experiment…was testing if spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model [a receptor used to humanize the mice to simulate exposing a human to the various virus strains]…

That language seems intentionally careful, as we’ll explain in a minute.

The findings of the research also read as intentionally careful, if not vague. Quote:

In this limited experiment, laboratory mice infected with the SHC014 WIV1 bat coronavirus became sicker than those infected with the WIV1 bat coronavirus… As sometimes occurs in science, this was an unexpected result of the research, as opposed to something that the researchers set out to do. Regardless, the viruses being studied under this grant were genetically very distant from SARS-CoV-2.

Let’s parse this language.

NIH discusses testing “naturally occurring coronaviruses,” in “limited experiments,” and that the greater sickness experienced in mice infected with one particular strain was “unexpected”—and unintended. See what they’re doing there?

Then the NIH distances all of this from the Chinese coronavirus—SARS-CoV-2—that we’ve all been suffering under for almost two years. 

Here’s the thing though—that strain that made the mice significantly sicker? That was a chimera, not naturally occurring.

While we didn’t find out about all this experimentation that was going on from 2018-2019 until October of this year, 2021, in August EcoHealth told the NIH that this more infectious chimera killed 75% of mice with humanized cells, while the naturally occurring virus killed less than 25% of mice with the same humanized cells. 

Mice exposed to one of these chimeras also lost significant weight. 

Just how much more potent were these chimeras, in terms of how quickly they reproduced inside the infected mice?

Well the NIH letter only indirectly gets at this. It notes that the terms and conditions of the grant to EcoHealth required it to report “immediately a one log increase in growth” in the strains of the viruses being created. EcoHealth failed to do this it seems for two years, violating the grant conditions.

According to recently released documents, there wasn’t just a one log increase in growth. The viral load in the lung tissue of mice infected with altered viruses at one point was up to 10,000 times higher than in those infected with the naturally occurring one.

So they created these viruses, tested them on humanized mice, and one strain made the mice far sicker, proved far more fatal, and reproduced at a substantially higher rate.

To the layman, this is gain-of-function research. To many scientists, this is gain-of-function research.

Richard Ebright is one of them. He’s the Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers, who has been a frequent critic of the NIH. 

Ebright has been particularly outspoken on these revelations, tweeting that these reports on EcoHealth’s work are a gain-of-function smoking gun.

When presented with Ebright’s comments, a spokesman for the NIH said:

Because a mouse got sicker doesn’t mean it would make a human sicker…The mouse study doesn’t tell us anything about human biology except how the viruses interact with the human ACE2 receptor. As you know mice and humans are very different…

Importantly, the presence of the human receptor alone is not sufficient to drive human infection… All other aspects of the mice, including the immune system, remained unchanged in this model.

Ebright says that’s bunk:

In essence, they are claiming that, because the NIH did not fund infection studies with lab-generated viruses and human subjects — the NIH did not fund gain of function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement subject to the federal policies.

By any rational standard–indeed, by any defensible standard–a virus that exhibits increased 10,000-fold higher viral load and higher pathogenicity in humanized mice, expressly engineered to model infection in humans, is reasonably anticipated to exhibit enhanced transmissibility in humans and pathogenicity in humans.

The NIH didn’t have a good retort to this.

What’s become clear here if nothing else is that our public health authorities and the nonprofits to which they outsource work are playing games—dangerous ones—and ones by the way Dr. Fauci has supported in writing in the past. 

The NIH blames EcoHealth for not reporting on its evidently risky and potentially dangerous work—it seems to be throwing EcoHealth under the bus, trying to protect itself. 

But it uses vague language to do it. It’s at pains to claim this isn’t how the Chinese coronavirus that has created so much suffering came about. 

As Vanity Fair reports:

An NIH spokesperson told Vanity Fair that Dr. Fauci was “entirely truthful in his statements to Congress,” and that he did not have the progress report that detailed the controversial research at the time he testified in July. But EcoHealth Alliance appeared to contradict that claim, and said in a statement: “These data were reported as soon as we were made aware, in our year four report in April 2018.”

Dr. Francis Collins inexplicably announced he would be stepping down just a few weeks ago. He claims he “wants to set the record straight” on this subject.

Meanwhile, at the same time the NIH made these disclosures to Congress, it pulled the detailed language describing “gain-of-function” research from its website. 

Just a couple weeks before Collins announced he was stepping down, a document leaked showing EcoHealth had submitted a $14 million grant proposal to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—an R&D arm of the Department of Defense—back in 2018 that proposed partnering with the Wuhan Institute of Virology to construct SARS-related bat coronaviruses to be inserted into “human-specific cleavage sites” to “evaluate growth potential” of these pathogens. As Vanity Fair notes:

The leaked grant proposal struck a number of scientists and researchers as significant for one reason. One distinctive segment of SARS-CoV-2’s genetic code is a furin cleavage site that makes the virus more infectious by allowing it to efficiently enter human cells.

We don’t know if EcoHealth, or its friends in Wuhan ever did this test, but what we do know certainly raises questions about their operations.

And what also seems clear is this: Our public health authorities—led by the likes of Anthony Fauci and EcoHealth’s boss Peter Daszak, the leader of the infamous letter at the leading medical journal the Lancet—were adamant that COVID-19 was naturally occurring. The authorities told us it came from a wet market. The authorities said they didn’t fund gain-of-function research.

Now, the authorities are telling us “Well, we did do something that looked like gain-of-function research, but because we were testing bat coronaviruses, and not on humans, we didn’t technically do it.” They’re not even arguing that COVID-19 couldn’t have come from a lab, they’re now just saying the work they funded under this grant certainly couldn’t be COVID-19. That alone makes them seem guilty—even if they’ll claim it’s just because they’re combatting “misinformation.”

They have no credibility. It’s a continuing threat to public health — these individuals who have been so deceptive for months and months are still in power still making these major decisions over our lives.

Here are the questions we deserve answers to:

What other gain-of-function research was WIV running? 

Did US tax dollars fund it? 

What did NIH know? 

What did EcoHealth know? When did they know it? What did they do about it? 

Was the People’s Liberation Army involved with any of the bat coronavirus activities at WIV? 

Who were the parties responsible for withholding this information until now? On what grounds? 

What other information are they sitting on? 

Why were we collaborating with China in anything this obviously risky?

All of this creates the appearance at very very minimum of the complicity of our public health authorities and their partners in the kind of work that could’ve created the coronavirus—and particularly because they’ve been so non-transparent and invested in attacking anyone who dares asks these questions for months.

None of these people, from dissembling, allegedly dog-abuse supporting Dr. Fauci, to the outgoing Francis Collins, nor probably any of their colleagues can be trusted to give the American people an honest accounting after all of these months of the origin of the coronavirus or anything after that point. That they are still serving is an absolute outrage of the highest order.

And that the Biden administration continues backing them, makes it complicit too.


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