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Dr. Anthony Fauci responded incredulously when questioned during an interview Thursday about whether the National Institutes of Health (NIH) bears any responsibility for funding the Chinese laboratory where the coronavirus pandemic is suspected to have originated.
“Are you really saying that we are implicated because we gave a multibillion-dollar institution $120,000 a year for bat surveillance?” he asked in the interview with The Financial Times.
According to a fact-check from the Prosper Press, in 2014 the NIH approved a grant to EcoHealth Alliance, an NGO “that focuses on emerging diseases caused by human and animal interactions.” Five years later, the grant was re-approved.
The grant was designed specifically for a project that involved “collaborating with researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study coronavirus in bats and the risk of potential transfer to humans,” according to the Prosper Press.
Of the total $3.4 million given to EcoHealth Alliance, $600,000 was directly funneled to the Wuhan laboratory over a period of six years, meaning $120,000 per year.
So Fauci was honest about the numbers. But not everybody believes he’s been honest about the NIH’s potential culpability in the coronavirus pandemic.
The problem is that the NIH, and thus Fauci, have apparently known about potential problems with the laboratory’s research for a while now.
“[T]hree researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology … reportedly became sick in November 2019, and six miners … fell ill after entering a bat cave in 2012. Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology subsequently visited the cave to take samples from the bats. Three of the miners died,” according to the Times.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 24, 2021
Speaking with the Times, Fauci called for the records of the three Wuhan researchers and six miners to be released immediately.
“I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019. Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?” he said.
“The same with the miners who got ill years ago. … What do the medical records of those people say? Was there [a] virus in those people? What was it? It is entirely conceivable that the origins of Sars-Cov-2 was in that cave and either started spreading naturally or went through the lab,” he added.
In a statement to the Times, David Asher, the former head of the State Department’s coronavirus origins investigation team, appeared shocked that Fauci is only now calling for these records to be released.
“I’m stunned that Fauci would now ask this question,” he said.
“He pointed out that the Trump administration said publicly in January that US intelligence believed the Wuhan scientists had fallen sick with symptoms of the virus,” according to the Times.
This is true. In a report that’s since been scrubbed clean by the Biden administration, the State Department noted that the “U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”
“Asher added that while he respected Fauci, he was frustrated at what he perceived as a lack of interest at NIAID and its parent agency, the National Institutes of Health, into pursuing the possibility that the virus had leaked from the lab,” according to the Times.
In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal published Thursday, he added, “The only thing more surreal than the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘nothing to see here’ attitude has been its uncritical acceptance by Western elites.”
Elites like Fauci, who was among those who’d loudly dismissed the lab leak theory as a likely conspiracy theory.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated – the way the mutations have naturally evolved,” he told the press approximately one year ago.
“A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” he added.
In his op-ed, Asher also called for the Biden administration to reinstitute a ban on “gain of function” research that was rolled back in 2017.
“The administration should also reimpose the Obama-era ban on ‘gain of function’ research cooperation between the U.S. and China, which the U.S. previously failed to police. Gain of function involves genetically altering diseases to enhance their virulence, pathogenicity and transferability between species to study how they might potentially evolve in nature,” he wrote.
“Gain of function” research is suspected to be partly behind the coronavirus pandemic. The problem here is that Fauci appears to be a fan of such research.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 29, 2021
Or at least he once was a fan of it. It’s unclear how he feels about it now.