The U.S. government contributed funding to controversial gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, a report alleged on Monday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the chief medical advisor to Democrat President Joe Biden, has previously denied the National Institute of Health [NIH] has ever funded such research. The U.S. agency led by White House COVID adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci funded research experiments to infect humanized mice with novel coronaviruses at a laboratory in Wuhan, China, newly released documents reveal.
Over 900 pages of documents were obtained by The Intercept as part of a Freedom of Information Act request against the National Institutes of Health. The documents detail how EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit group that supports field research on coronaviruses around the world, awarded federal funding to study bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Newly revealed details include two previously unpublished grant proposals that were funded by Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. One of those grants appears to show gain-of-function research experiments that intentionally make viruses more transmissible among mammals, and particularly among humans being funded by U.S. taxpayers through NIAID’s grant to EcoHealth Alliance and a subsequent sub-award to the Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment. The grant was awarded for a five-year period between 2014 and 2019.
According to The Intercept, one of the grants, titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” outlines an ambitious effort led by EcoHealth Alliance president Peter Daszak to screen thousands of bat samples for novel coronaviruses. The research also involved screening people who work with live animals.
The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed. The documents raise additional questions about the theory that the pandemic may have begun in a lab accident, an idea that Daszak has aggressively dismissed.
The bat coronavirus grant provided the EcoHealth Alliance with a total of $3.1 million, including $599,000 that the Wuhan Institute of Virology used in part to identify and alter bat coronaviruses likely to infect humans. Even before the pandemic, many scientists were concerned about the potential dangers associated with such experiments.
The grant proposal acknowledges some of those dangers: “Fieldwork involves the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, while working in caves with high bat density overhead and the potential for fecal dust to be inhaled.”
Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, reviewed the documents and determined that the research described fits the definition of gain-of-function experiments. “The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell,” Ebright told The Intercept. He indicated that the documents show the Chinese researchers were able to infect humanized mice with two different types of novel coronaviruses.