Dr. Anthony Fauci said it is impossible to guarantee that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology did not use American funds to perform gain-of-function research on coronaviruses, in testimony to a Senate panel on Tuesday.
Gain-of-function experiments are conducted to make viruses more deadly and/or contagious in a laboratory. The coronavirus pandemic began in Wuhan, China, leading to speculation that the pathogen may have leaked from the WIV, where experiments on bat coronaviruses have been conducted.
Around $600,000 in grants from the National Institutes of Health were directed by the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance to the WIV in the form of sub-grants between 2014 and 2019.
Fauci has maintained that none of that funding was used to support gain-of-function research at the WIV. However, at least one study conducted by WIV researchers on bat coronaviruses, which relied on funding from the National Institutes of Health, qualifies as gain-of-function research, Rutgers University professor of chemistry and chemical biology Dr. Richard Ebright told National Review.
Having listened to Fauci’s claim that no U.S. money went toward gain-of-function research at the WIV, Senator John Kennedy (R., La.) asked him if some funding could have been surreptitiously directed to that kind of research without his knowledge.
“How do you know they didn’t lie to you?” Kennedy asked.
“We’ve seen the results of the experiments that were done, and that were published,” Fauci said. “So none of that was gain-of-function.”
“How do you know they didn’t do their research and not put it on their website?” Kennedy continued.
“Theres no way of guaranteeing that, but in our experience with grantees…you would expect that they would abide by the conditions of the grant, which they’ve done for the years that we’ve had interactions with them,” Fauci responded.
When Kennedy asked whether Dr. Fauci thought scientists could be influenced by the Chinese Communist Party, Fauci said “I don’t have enough insight into the Communist Party of China to know the interactions between them and the scientists.”