Anthony Fauci continued to deny that the National Institutes of Health funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China despite the NIH’s own admission that EcoHealth Alliance used its grant money to conduct risky bat coronavirus research.
During an interview with ABC News this weekend, Fauci was asked about a demand from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that he be fired for lying to Congress about the NIH’s funding.
“I obviously totally disagree with Sen. Paul,” Fauci said.
He’s absolutely incorrect. Neither I nor Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the NIH, lied or misled about what we’ve done,” he continued. “He is not correct that we lied or misled the Congress.”
Collins, the NIH director, recently announced his plans to step down amid the growing criticism and scrutiny, but Fauci has made clear he plans to do no such thing.
Lawrence Tabak, the NIH’s principal deputy director, admitted in a letter last week that EcohHealth Alliance, which received millions of dollars in NIH funding, violated grant rules by conducting an experiment on “laboratory mice infected with the SHC014 WIV1 bat coronavirus.” These mice “became sicker than those infected with the WIV1 bat coronavirus,” Tabak said, which means the research qualifies as gain-of-function.
Fauci defended this research by EcoHealth Alliance, arguing that it did not fit the technical definition of gain-of-function, even if it did appear to make the coronaviruses more deadly.
“The framework under which we have guidance about the conduct of research that we fund, the funding at the Wuhan Institute was to be able to determine what is out there in the environment, in bat viruses in China,” he said.
“And the research was very strictly under what we call a framework of oversight of the type of research,” he continued. “And under those conditions which we have explained very, very clearly, does not constitute research of gain of function of concern.”
Fauci has defended Wuhan’s risky coronavirus research several times, claiming that it was “absolutely necessary” even if it might have led to a lab-leak. In May, he claimed it would have been a “dereliction of our duty” if the NIH had not funded this research.