Did Fauci lie about NIH/NIAID ties to gain-of-function work in China? Paul: Told you so

Did the National Institutes of Health provide funding for the “gain of function” research in Wuhan that might have created COVID-19? According to Anthony Fauci’s testimony before Congress, neither NIH nor the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) provided funding for that type of virus research, a point on which Rand Paul later accused Fauci of perjury.

A new set of documents released under a FOIA demand to The Intercept appears to contradict Fauci’s repeated testimony. According to the paperwork, two previously undisclosed grants appear to have funded GOF research, including one in Wuhan — but not at the laboratory under suspicion thus far:

NEWLY RELEASED DOCUMENTS provide details of U.S.-funded research on several types of coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. The Intercept has obtained more than nine hundred pages of documents detailing the work of the EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based health organization that used federal money to fund bat coronavirus research at the Chinese laboratory. The trove of documents includes two previously unpublished grant proposals that were funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as project updates relating to the EcoHealth Alliance’s research, which has been scrutinized amid increased interest in the origins of the pandemic.

The documents were released in connection with ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation by The Intercept against the National Institutes of Health. The Intercept is making the full documents available to the public.

“This is a roadmap to the high-risk research that could have led to the current pandemic,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right To Know, a group that has been investigating the origins of Covid-19. …

According to Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, the documents contain critical information about the research done in Wuhan, including about the creation of novel viruses. “The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell,” Ebright wrote to The Intercept after reviewing the documents. Ebright also said that the documents make it clear that two different types of novel coronaviruses were able to infect humanized mice. “While they were working on SARS-related coronavirus, they were carrying out a parallel project at the same time on MERS-related coronavirus,” Ebright said, referring to the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Ebright elaborated in a lengthy Twitter thread late yesterday. The two studies specifically funded efforts to manipulate spike genes in order to determine what mutations would prove dangerous to humans. That is the very definition of “gain of function” research, Ebright declares, and accuses both Fauci and Francis Collins of lying:

It’s not just at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, either. Some of this research took place at another lab in Wuhan, which may raise questions as to whether WIV was a red herring in the search for the source of COVID-19:

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.

This certainly looks pretty suspicious, if The Intercept is reporting this accurately. Having Ebright on board to corroborate their reporting, as well as molecular biologist Alina Chan, helps to build confidence in that conclusion. However, as Allahpundit has repeatedly pointed out, “gain of function” is a highly technical and narrow label, one open to some interpretation. When challenged by another reader on the definition by noting that “pseudotyping is not GOF,” Ebright agreed, but explained that these studies went beyond pseudotyping:

That’s been my understanding of GOF as well. It’s the manipulation of the virus to make it more infectious to humans which defines GOF, and apparently that’s what these two studies did. If those were funded by NIH and NIAID, then both Fauci and Collins need to explain why they didn’t release this information more than a year ago when the pandemic hit. Perhaps they simply weren’t aware of it at the time, but it seems very difficult to believe that no one pointed out these two studies in the meantime to both officials as part of the investigation into the origin of COVID-19. In fact, that failure to disclose these grants at first when everyone wondered about the origins of the virus makes this look very suspicious.

It’s time to get both Fauci and Collins in front of Congress, explicitly under oath, to explain. Perhaps they have a perfectly reasonable and consistent answer for these new questions. If not, they’d better bring lawyers.

Update: Paul claims vindication:

I’d like to hear Fauci’s explanation first before reaching a conclusion. It certainly does look like NIH and NIAID have either been deceptive or incompetent thus far in not disclosing these grants and their significance.

Update: Our sister site Redstate had flagged the EcoHealth Alliance research back in May, and had been attempting to get their own FOIA enforced.