In May, Anthony Fauci testified before a Senate panel that the US National Institutes of Health had never funded “gain-of-function” research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher has urged White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci to resign, claiming new documents show that the 80-year-old lied about the US backing “gain-of-function” research.
Such research involves the genetic alteration of an organism in a way that may enhance the biological functions of gene products.
In a statement on Wednesday, Gallagher said that on 12 May, he argued that Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “had not been forthcoming about the US government’s support for gain-of-function research at the WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology]”.
“These documents are a smoking gun that indicate he not only failed to be forthcoming, but that he also lied to the American people about his organization’s support for this risky research”, the Wisconsin Republican asserted.
Gallagher was referring to documents earlier obtained by The Intercept, which purportedly indicated that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) had funded experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that made coronaviruses “more pathogenetic than the original virus”.
The Republican also singled out “grant reports” written by British-American zoologist Peter Daszak that allegedly prove that “US taxpayer dollars supported research that made a virus at the WIV stronger than the original, naturally-occurring virus”. According to Gallagher, “this meets the very threshold for gain-of-function research that Dr. Fauci outlined in a letter to me in July”.
“He has repeatedly lied before Congress and the American people and should immediately resign. But his resignation is not enough. Congress must also conduct a thorough investigation into this research and the way in which these grants were issued to ensure no bureaucrat is able to hide behind lawyerly definitions and skirt regulations like this again”, Gallagher stressed.
In May, Fauci testified to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that a $600,000 NIH grant he approved for the WIV was not for “gain-of-function” research, which often involves altering the genetic code of a naturally-occurring virus in one animal to make it capable of infecting another.
Some senior US officials have repeatedly claimed that the COVID-19 virus was genetically-engineered at the WIV bio lab and escaped by accident, allegations Beijing rejects.
A report from a World Health Organisation (WHO) investigative mission to Wuhan published in March found the lab-leak origin theory “extremely unlikely”, reinforcing the explanation that the virus strain mutated naturally and could have spread to humans through the sale of wild animals such as bats and pangolins as culinary delicacies.