Senate cheers as Paul amendment banning US funding of ‘gain of function’ research is passed

Amid a sudden interest in the origins of COVID-19 and all eyes on China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to ban the funding of the gain of function research in that country.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and sponsored by a number of other Republican senators, was added to the Endless Frontier Act, a broad technology investment bill.

“We don’t know whether the pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan or evolved naturally,” Paul said in a statement. “While many still deny funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan, experts believe otherwise. The passage of my amendment ensures that this never happens in the future. No taxpayer money should have ever been used to fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan, and now we permanently have put it to a stop.”

The amendment bans the National Institutes of Health from funding this research in China. Another amendment, from Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, banning funding going to the Wuhan Institute also passed.

The upper chamber can be seen below breaking into cheer when Paul’s amendment gained approval:

The Wuhan Institute is located just miles from the wet market where the first COVID-19 outbreak was reported.

Paul recently grilled Dr. Anthony Fauci on the NIH’s funding of dangerous gain-of-function research at the lab — this research takes a virus and manipulates the genetic code to make it stronger and more contagious, with the motivation being to engineer deadly viruses in lab conditions to learn about treatments and vaccines.

Fauci denied that the NIH funded this research, though he seemed to split hairs over what constitutes gain-of-function research.

“Despite Dr. Fauci’s previous denials, there is ample evidence and backing by the scientific community that the NIH and the NIAID, under his direction, funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Paul’s office said in a press release. “A multitude of scientists have reviewed this research and said it meets the definition for gain-of-function. Many of these scientists have also discussed the inherent dangers of conducting gain-of-function research and the risks it poses to the human population.”

On Tuesday, Fauci admitted to “modest” collaboration with scientists in Wuhan on studying bat coronaviruses, but insisted that the agency didn’t allocate the money to do “gain of function” research, Fox News reported.

“It would have been almost a dereliction of our duty if we didn’t study this, and the only way you can study these things is you’ve got to go where the action is,” Fauci said.

His assertion calls to mind Planned Parenthood claiming hundreds of millions of federal dollars received every year do not go toward abortions.

Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin charged Fauci is the “godfather” of this highly controversial research.

“The head of the funding, the head of the entire field, really, is Anthony Fauci,” he said. “He’s the godfather of gain-of-function research as we know it. That, again, just what I said right there, is too hot for TV because people don’t want to think about the fact that our hero of the pandemic… might also have been connected to this research, which might also have been connected to the outbreak.”

Rogan made that remark last month on Megyn Kelly’s podcast and claimed scientists are essentially barred from speaking out on the matter because much of their research funding comes from NIH and organizations influenced or run by Fauci.

“I often talk to scientists who say the same thing, that say, ‘Listen, we really want to speak out about this, but we can’t do it. Why can’t we do it? Well, we get all of our funding from NIH, or NIAID… which is run by Dr. Fauci,'” he said. “And so we can’t say anything like ‘Oh, gain-of-function research might be dangerous, or it might have come from a lab’, because we’re going to lose our careers, we’re going to lose our funding, we’re not going to be able to do the work.”

Tom Tillison

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