The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has finally agreed to fund gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Chinese laboratory in Wuhan, media reported.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which is also at the heart of the laboratory leak theory for the origins of Covid-19, is believed to be carrying out gain-of-function research – the controversial practice of increasing the transmissibility or lethality of a virus to study the development of new diseases.
The NIH reportedly donated $ 600,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in 2014, through the EcoHealth Alliance, a US-based non-profit organization, to study bald coronaviruses -mouse.
But U.S. President Anthony Fauci’s Covid adviser, who is also the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has repeatedly claimed that U.S. funding is not being used for research on the gain of function.
According to NIH Senior Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak, the agency funded a “limited experiment,” the Daily Mail reported.
The experiment was conducted to test whether “advanced proteins from natural bat coronaviruses circulating in China were able to bind to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model”, at the Wuhan laboratory.
The results showed that mice infected with modified bat virus “got sicker” than those infected with unmodified bat virus, Tabak said in a letter to the Kentucky congressman, James Comer.
“As sometimes happens in science, this was an unexpected result of the research, as opposed to something the researchers intended to do,” Tabak reportedly said.
Tabak did not use the term, however, but essentially confirmed that the gain-of-function research had taken place in the Chinese lab despite Dr Fauci’s constant denials, according to the report.
The letter blamed the EcoHealth Alliance, which used NIH money to fund research at the WIV, for not being transparent about the type of research they were doing.
“EcoHealth did not report this finding right away, as required by the terms of the grant,” Tabak wrote in his letter.
The company was told “to submit all unpublished data from experiments and work under this award to NIH,” within five days.
Federal funding for the practice was banned under President Barack Obama in 2014, but the NIH overturned the decision in 2017, according to the report.
Meanwhile, a group of U.S. Republicans are considering passing legislation banning all federal funding for office-earning research.
“For the past decade, Dr. Fauci has funded gain-of-function research on SARS viruses, and until we get to the bottom of the origins of Covid-19, the federal government should not provide another cent in funding for viral gain of functional research in the name of global health, ”Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, recently said in a statement.
The moratorium would ban all federal research grants to universities and other organizations funding research into office gain, according to the report.