Fox News Channel's Steve Hilton aired a video from December 17, 2012, showing Dr. Anthony Fauci explaining what types of research experiments constitute “gain-of-function” — and that, surprise, surprise, those very types of experiments were funded by NIH at that time and continued through 2020, despite government moratoriums on such research.
So, what does that mean? It means that Fauci lied to Congress on May 11 (and probably on other dates) and that NIH Director Francis Collins repeatedly blatantly lied to the public in interviews.
As a refresher, here's Fauci's exchange with Sen Rand Paul.
Within 24 hours of that May 11 testimony, RedState's Scott Hounsell posted a lengthy takedown of it in a piece titled, “Dr. Fauci's Testimony to Rand Paul on ‘Gain-of-Function' Research Certainly Seems Like It Was Untrue,” and referenced several NIH-funded studies, partially conducted in Wuhan, that fit the accepted definition of gain-of-function research.
While our piece was well-sourced, we stopped short of calling Fauci a liar in it — remember, less than four weeks ago, we were living in an entirely different world, one in which simply being open to investigating the “lab leak theory,” let alone actually believing that it was a very viable scenario, led to one being labeled as a conspiracy theorist or, in the case of a conservative publication, being silenced entirely. Still, we pushed forward, labeling Fauci as a liar without coming right out and saying it.
Dr. Shi Zhengli of WIV participated in the majority of the NIH-funded studies Hounsell referenced in the piece; two of those studies produced new, engineered coronaviruses with increased transmissibility and host range. He also linked directly to documents showing funding going from NIH to EcoHealth Alliance, and from EcoHealth Alliance to WIV.
During a 2012 conference in which a “framework” for conducting gain-of-function research in the United States was being debated, Fauci defined gain-of-function for the attendees. He first described “natural” gain of function, where investigators examine the changes in a virus after it has mutated in the wild. Then he says:
“What historically investigators have done is actually create gain-of-function by making mutations, passage adaptation, or other newer genetic techniques such as reverse genetics and genetic reassortment….
“But the bottom line is that gain and loss of function research is critical to understanding disease pathogenesis, antimicrobial resistance, and host responses, as well as to developing better techniques of surveillance, vaccines, and therapeutics.
He then explained to the attendees what types of research would be considered gain-of-function for purposes of federal grants and the research moratorium.
Specifically…what we're talking about now is the gain-of-function research in studies that increased predominantly the transmissibility, increase the pathogenicity, and/or alter the host range of these viruses.
If you give a gain of function of a pathogenic virus to make it more transmissible, that's a whole different story than some of the other things we faced.
So, to recap, studies that increase transmissibility (makes it easier for the disease to spread from person to person), increase pathogenicity (the ability to cause harm/disease), or alter the host range (increase the number of species affected by the virus) are gain-of-function, and those viruses can be altered by using reverse genetics, passage adaptation, or genetic reassignment.
In 2015, results of an NIH-funded study spearheaded by Dr. Ralph Baric at UNC-Chapel Hill and Dr. Shi created a new coronavirus, as we've reported. How did they do that? Reverse genetics.
Using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system, we generated and characterized a chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone.
So, using reverse genetics they engineered a virus that “grew equally well to SARS in human cells,” as Dr. Baric explained to Vice that year. That certainly sounds like altering the host range of that virus, which had been found in bat guano in a cave 900 miles from Wuhan (yes, *that* cave).
But there's more. A key feature of this coronavirus was a “novel,” or new, spike protein. The study revealed that available immune-therapeutic and preventative modalities weren't very effective against it, and vaccine approaches “failed to neutralize and protect from infection.”
Kinda sounds like that research led to increased pathogenicity of the virus, right? And, as Hounsell has pointed out, Baric was asked by NIH to pause that research in 2014 due to a federal moratorium but somehow received permission to go ahead — from Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci also approved a $3.7 million grant to Peter Daszak's EcoHealth Alliance — of which $500,000 was sent to Wuhan — in June 2014 (during the moratorium) for a study titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.” Its purpose:
“This project seeks to understand what factors allow animal Coronaviruses to evolve and jump into the human population by studying virus diversity in a critical group of animals (bats), at sites of high risk for emergence (wildlife markets) in an emerging disease hotspot (China).”
How did they plan to do that? One method mentioned in the abstract:
“Predictive models of host range (i.e. emergence potential) will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics….”
So, this one is studying the host range — one of the criteria mentioned by Fauci — using reverse genetics — another thing mentioned by Fauci as gain-of-function. Donald Trump revoked funding for that grant in April 2020, but was bullied into restoring it in July 2020. Permission to resume the research has not been granted, though, until EcoHealth Alliance can meet certain biosafety criteria. (As of February 2021 EHA had not met that criteria.)
Of course, Fauci will have an explanation for this, too. He and his apologists will say anyone who falls for this is just a stupid Trump supporter incapable of understanding the nuance about why this research isn't gain-of-function. The number of people who aren't buying Fauci's lines anymore is increasing exponentially.