NIH official finally admits taxpayers funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan — after years of denials

It’s time!

Lawrence Tabak, the principal deputy director of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH), admitted Thursday to Congress that US taxpayers had funded gain-of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology of China in the years and months before the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Dr. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz. (Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus Pandemic), asked “Dr.

Tabak replied, “It depends how you define gain-of function research.” If you’re talking about the generic term “gain-of-function research”, yes, Tabak answered.

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After more than four year of evasions by federal public health officials, including Tabak and former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci about the controversial research that modifies virus to make it more infectious.

Tabak said that this is research. The generic term is [gain-of function], and it is research that is conducted in many labs across the country. It is not regulated. It is not regulated because it does not pose any threat to anyone.

The Post quoted Dr. Bryce Nickels as saying that the exchange was “two people talking over each other.”

Nickels stated that Tabak engaged in the usual obfuscation, semantic manipulation and pointless nonsense that was so frustrating and useless. He added that the NIH official was refusing to accept accountability for research that could create pathogens with pandemic potential.

He added, “Instead of directly addressing this issue, Tabak responded with a useless explanation about how the term ‘gain of function’ encompasses a wide range of types of experiments.”

The US Department of Health and Human Services has banned the Wuhan Institute of Virology for 10 years from receiving federal funding.

HHS has cut off all grant funding for EcoHealth Alliance. Its mission statement states that it “works to prevent pandemics”.

EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak testified, at an earlier hearing this month, before the House Select Subcommittee for the Coronavirus Pandemic that “his organization has never done and does not do gain of function research, by definition.”

Daszak’s correspondence in private, such as an email from 2016, where he praised the end of a pause by the Obama administration on research into gain-of function, contradicted this claim.

EcoHealth’s head was also called to task in a sworn statement before the COVID panel. Dr. Ralph Baric is a coronavirologist and a leader who conducted the research. He declared that it was an “absolutely gain-of function”.

Tabak acknowledged in a letter sent to Congress in October 2021 that NIH had funded a limited experiment at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to test whether “spike protein from naturally occurring bat circling coronaviruses in China was capable of binding the human ACE2 in a mice model.”

He didn’t call it gain-of function research, but revealed that EcoHealth had “failed” to disclose the fact that bat coronaviruses mutated with SARS or MERS viruses were made 10,000 times more infectious. This was a violation of grant conditions.

On the day the letter was delivered, the NIH removed from its website a definition of gain-of function research that had been in place for many years.

Tabak noted in his letter of October 2021 that “the sequences of the virus are genetically very different” from COVID-19, but since then other grant proposals by EcoHealth have been scrutinized for their genetic similarity.

Fauci denied repeatedly that the Wuhan laboratory research involved gain of function experiments. He clashed with Republicans at high-profile hearings, and used the term “playing semantics,” during an interview conducted behind closed doors with the House COVID committee earlier this year.

Brad Wenstrup, COVID Subcommittee Chair (R-Ohio), said after Fauci was grilled in January, “He needs define his definition for gain-of function research. I’ve read many articles in the past three years about gain-offunction research or creation of a fake. This is a brand new one.”

The former NIAID chief and White House Medical Advisor under President Biden were escorted to and from the Committee Room for his two-day interviews by Capitol Police, and he dodged The Post’s questions on gain-of function research and pandemic locking down restrictions.

Rand Paul (R-Ky. ), a senator from Kentucky, held Fauci to account in 2021 for his evasions during several hearings.

Fauci said in May that the NIH had never funded gain-of function research at Wuhan Institute of Virology and it does not do so now.

Francis Collins, the then-NIH Director, testified in a House hearing held the same month that the researchers from the Wuhan laboratory “were not authorized by NIH to do gain-of-function-research.”

Collins, at the time, added, “We’re not aware of any other sources of funding or other activities that they may have undertaken beyond what our grant approved.”

Daszak, during the COVID hearings last week, highlighted that there was a lack of knowledge about what experiments were carried out as a result NIH grants.

EcoHealth’s leader admitted that he hadn’t asked Shi Zhengli, the deputy director of Wuhan Institute of Virology and a long-time collaborator of his, for viral sequences before the pandemic started.

Collins’ testimony, given behind closed doors to a House subcommittee on Thursday, echoed Tabak’s remarks, but went one step further, saying that “there is a generic term for gain-of function which is used in public and scientific discourse, but it is not appropriate when we are talking about potential pathogens.”

Wenstrup, The Post’s reporter after Thursday’s hearing said: “We must be very aware of the risks associated with gain-of function technology. Scientific capabilities now exist to create something in a laboratory that wasn’t possible 100 years ago or even 50.”

“Drs. Fauci and Collins admitted, more than a decade before, that gain-of function research carries risks.

EcoHealth has received more than $500k for its collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as part of a $4 million grant to study the emergence of the bat coronaviruses from 2014-2024.

This grant was revoked by 2020, reinstated by 2023, and suspended this week.

The House subcommittee continues to investigate whether COVID-19 accidentally escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan. This has been described by the FBI, US Energy Department and ex-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield as the most probable cause of the pandemic.