White House Defends Fauci amid Allegations of Lying to Congress about Gain-of-Function Research

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Dr. Anthony Fauci from renewed allegations that Fauci misled Congress about the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) funding of gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China, during a press conference on Thursday.

Gain-of-function research refers to efforts to improve a virus’s capabilities in order to study and develop treatments for it.

Fauci has repeatedly insisted that the NIH has funded nothing that could reasonably be considered gain-of-function research in Wuhan. Many disagree. Dr. Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert at Rutgers University, told National Review in May that NIH funded research in Wuhan that “matches — indeed epitomizes — the definition of ‘gain of function research of concern’ for which federal funding was ‘paused’ in 2014-2017.”

Earlier this week, The Intercept published new documents — including a grant proposal — that described research that Ebright again deems gain of function. “The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell,” he told The Intercept.

Psaki was indignant when asked by Fox News’s Peter Doocy if President Joe Biden would consider relieving Fauci of his positions as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president, insisting that “NIH has refuted that reporting.”

“NIH has never approved any research that would make a coronavirus more dangerous to humans, a reminder that there are previous and different coronaviruses than the existing one we’re battling,” said Psaki, who pointed out that the genomes of the coronaviruses described in the NIH research were different from the virus that has caused the ongoing pandemic.

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NIH research in Wuhan would not need to be proven to have been connected to the pandemic for Fauci to be guilty of lying before Congress. Evidence that he was aware of the gain-of-function research previously debated or that which was uncovered by The Intercept would render Fauci’s statements false.

A visibly frustrated Fauci told Senator Rand Paul that “the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” earlier this year.

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