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

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the admission by Lawrence Tabak, the NIH principal deputy director, that the U.S. government funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also covers the ongoing debate and controversy around this issue, including the responses and evasions from officials like Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins, as well as the investigations by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

🙋 Q&A

[01] NIH Funding of Gain-of-Function Research at Wuhan Institute of Virology

1. What did Lawrence Tabak admit about NIH funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

  • Tabak admitted that NIH did fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology through the EcoHealth Alliance, though he claimed the term "gain-of-function" is not well-defined.

2. How did Tabak's response differ from previous statements by Fauci and Collins on this issue?

  • Previous statements by Fauci and Collins had denied or downplayed the NIH's funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab, but Tabak's admission contradicted their earlier claims.

3. What was the reaction from experts like Bryce Nickels to Tabak's response?

  • Experts criticized Tabak's response as evasive and engaging in "semantic manipulation" to avoid accountability for the risky research that may have contributed to the pandemic.

4. What actions have been taken against the Wuhan Institute of Virology and EcoHealth Alliance as a result of this issue?

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services barred the Wuhan Institute of Virology from receiving federal grants for 10 years, and EcoHealth Alliance had its grant funding pulled for 3 years.

[02] Debate Around Gain-of-Function Research

1. What were the key points of disagreement between officials like Fauci and Collins, and Republican lawmakers, regarding the definition and nature of gain-of-function research?

  • Fauci and Collins claimed the research at Wuhan did not constitute "gain-of-function" as defined by the NIH, while Republican lawmakers argued the research clearly met the definition and posed significant risks.

2. How did the NIH's own actions, such as scrubbing its website of a definition for gain-of-function research, contribute to the controversy?

  • The NIH's actions, like removing the definition of gain-of-function research from its website, were seen as attempts to obfuscate and avoid accountability for the funding of this type of research.

3. What were the concerns raised by experts like Bryce Nickels about the lack of oversight and self-policing of gain-of-function research?

  • Experts criticized the lack of external oversight for research on pathogens that pose existential threats to humanity, arguing it is "insanity" to delegate responsibility for risk/benefit analysis to the scientists conducting the research.

[03] Investigations and Hearings on COVID-19 Origins

1. What were the key findings and testimonies from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic's investigations?

  • The subcommittee heard testimony contradicting claims by EcoHealth Alliance's president, Peter Daszak, that his organization did not conduct gain-of-function research. Testimony from Dr. Ralph Baric confirmed the research was "absolutely" gain-of-function.

2. What were the different theories on the origins of COVID-19 that were discussed in the article?

  • The article mentions the lab leak theory from the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the most likely cause of the pandemic, according to the FBI, U.S. Energy Department, former CDC director Robert Redfield, and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

3. How did the article characterize the ongoing debate and investigations around the COVID-19 origins?

  • The article suggests the investigations and hearings have highlighted the lack of oversight and accountability for research on potentially pandemic-causing pathogens, with scientists essentially left to "self-police" the risks.
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