Fauci’s NIH gives another $3.5 million to EcoHealth despite dangerous past of coronavirus research
Just before he retires, Dr. Anthony Fauci has pushed through a new five-year grant for EcoHealth. EcoHealth Alliance, is the U.S. nonprofit that Fauci and the National Institute of Health’s funds, “to conduct dangerous coronavirus research in partnership with China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology prior to the global Covid-19 pandemic” reports National Review.
Over the next five years, the troublesome EcoHealth will receive over $3.25 million; their first check comes this year for $653,392. The grant is one of four concurrent NIH grants that EcoHealth has; three of the grants were awarded after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The description of the grant on the NIH RePORTER website is to analyze “the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.”
“This is high-risk research that involves going into remote, often inaccessible areas, and sampling bats and bat excreta, and then returning those samples to laboratories in population centers where they attempt to isolate the virus … and then seek to characterize the threat level posed by the virus,” said Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert and professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University. “This is one of the kinds of research that may have been directly responsible for the current pandemic.”
The term gain-of-function research has become very controversial since the global Covid-19 pandemic, and National Review reports on the subject:
This newest EcoHealth project wouldn’t qualify as gain-of-function research, Ebright said. Gain-of-function research involves extracting viruses from animals and engineering them in a lab to make them more transmissible or dangerous to humans. But Ebright said two of EcoHealth’s grants do involve gain-of-function research and enhanced potential pandemic research on coronaviruses. And even if the current description of the new project doesn’t involve gain-of-function research, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t later.
From securing funding to completing the research, it is a six-year process, Ebright said, and the project is bound to change over those six years. “If researchers robotically followed what they proposed six years ago, they would not be taking into account developments in their own labs and in the field at any point along the way,” he said. “You have to have this flexibility. That also means you need oversight to make sure the flexibility isn’t going into forbidden areas.”
Going into forbidden areas is exactly how EcoHealth and its president, Peter Daszak, previously got into trouble. Starting in 2014, the U.S. government temporarily paused funding for gain-of-function research due to concerns over biosafety and biosecurity. When some of EcoHealth’s research – involving infecting genetically-engineered mice with hybrid viruses – seemed to cross that line, NIAID staff and EcoHealth leaders crafted work-around guidelines to allow the nonprofit to continue its work.
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National Institutes of Health renews ‘bat coronavirus’ research funding
Have we not learned our lesson? The now infamous National Institutes of Health has renewed a grant to EcoHealth Alliance for research on the “risk of bat coronavirus spillover emergence.” The news is shocking to many due to multiple agencies of the U.S. government supporting the lab leak theory of Covid’s origin.
“Zoonotic coronaviruses (CoVs) represent a significant threat to global health, as demonstrated by the emergence of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2,” a press release read. “Bats were identified as the wildlife reservoirs of SARS-CoV by EcoHealth Alliance, and since then, we have published hundreds of novel SARS-related CoV (SARSr-CoV) sequences from wildlife in China and across Southeast Asia.”
In order to “ease” concerns and some objections, the press release noted on-the-ground work under the auspices of this new grant will not be conducted in China. The study is specific to southern China, but the “renewed work will involve collaboration only between EcoHealth Alliance and the Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School.”
All “recombinant virus culture or infection experiments” will also be removed from the research process. The press release assured that the research would not be “gain of function,” which involves extracting viruses from animals and engineering them in a lab to make them more transmissible or dangerous to humans.
The Biden administration has been supportive. National Review reports:
In February, national-security council communications coordinator John Kirby said the Biden administration supports gain-of-function research despite the potential risks as long as that it is pursued in a safe and transparent manner.
“[The president] believes that [the research is] important to help prevent future pandemics, which means he understands that there has to be legitimate scientific research into . . . the potential sources of pandemics so that we understand [them] and so we can prevent them from happening,” Kirby said.
However, let’s not forget:
in February, FBI director Christopher Wray told Fox News that Covid likely escaped from a laboratory in China, issuing the first public opinion of the sort from the agency on the origins of the virus.
“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Wray said. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”
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