RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Top White House Covid advisor Anthony Fauci faces calls to resign after newly released documents suggested his agency funded dangerous “gain-of-function” research in China, despite earlier denials.
The calls for the health advisor’s dismissal come after ‘The Intercept’ obtained more than 900 pages of material related to coronavirus research funded by Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), including unpublished grant applications from a U.S.-based organization that passed federal funds to the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who has repeatedly clashed with Fauci during the Covid-19 pandemic, shared the recent document dump in a tweet Tuesday and said the materials “make it very clear that [Fauci] must be held accountable.” and noted that he had already asked the Justice Department to review the consultant for “lying” in earlier congressional testimony.
Documents released by ‘The Intercept’ show that the U.S.-based organization, EcoHealth Alliance, received about US$3.1 million in NIAID-approved funding from Fauci, which increased to more than US$3.7 million in total, according to other government records.
Of that grant, US$599,000 was funneled to WIV, specifically to fund work to “identify and alter bat coronaviruses that can infect humans,” according to ‘The Intercept’.
The company’s grant application acknowledged the potential dangers posed by the project, noting that “fieldwork involves the increased risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs [coronaviruses] while working in caves with high bat density and the possibility of fecal dust inhalation.”
EcoHealth Alliance’s joint investigation with WIV has raised further questions about potentially unsafe work in the Wuhan lab and whether ‘gain-of-function’ research, which aims to increase the virulence and infectivity of pathogens to study them better, was conducted.
Fauci has repeatedly denied that his agency funded, directly or indirectly, any gain-of-function work at WIV, including in high-profile confrontations with lawmakers such as Senator Paul (as can be seen in the article shared above).
"NEWLY RELEASED documents provide details of US-funded research on..coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology..The Intercept has obtained more than 900 pages of documents detailing..work of..EcoHealth Alliance..at the Chinese lab.."https://t.co/n3OkFAq3kM
— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) September 7, 2021
However, according to Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University who spoke to ‘The Intercept’ after reviewing the documents, the EcoHealth-funded research included work to design new viruses and test “their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human-like receptors.”
In a lengthy Twitter thread posted after the Intercept story, Ebright went on to argue that the WIV work, in fact, constituted “gain-of-function research as defined by federal policy” and that Fauci and other top health officials have lied to the public about it.
The revelations have led several Republican critics to call for Fauci’s resignation, or even his outright firing, while some called for further investigation into his ties to the WIV investigation.
“Just months after Fauci testified that the NIH has never funded gain of function at the Wuhan lab, recently released documents show he lied and that there was funding,” the Arizona Republican Party wrote on Twitter, adding that “Fauci should be fired and investigated immediately!”
Although Senator Paul asked federal prosecutors to investigate Fauci’s testimony for perjury in July, it is unclear to date whether any investigation has moved forward.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s administration continues to rely on Fauci as one of its top pandemic advisors and is unlikely to listen to Republican calls for his ouster.