A new letter from the National Institutes of Health offers more evidence that White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci lied to Congress when denying that federal health agencies had funded "gain-of-function" research, The Federalist reported Thursday.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in May challenged Fauci about an annual $600,000 grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology through EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based non-profit.
"The NIH has not ever and does not now, fund gain of function research," Fauci said. "Sen. Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect."
Gain-of-function research refers to scientists modifying organisms. Although Fauci has defended it in studying potential therapeutics such as vaccines, the research was deemed so dangerous by the U.S. government it was banned from 2014 to 2017.
Fauci repeated his claims in July during another back-and-forth with Paul.
"Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I would like to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about," Fauci said.
Now, a letter from NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said EcoHealth failed to comply with a mandated report, as stipulated by the grant, that would have triggered a supplemental review process for "gain-of -function" research, The Federalist reported.
The gain-of-function research ban was lifted after the Department of Health and Human Services developed enhanced protocols to evaluate grant proposals under the Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight Framework.
NIH funded the Wuhan Institute, which the State Department claims was engaged in collaborative work with the Chinese military from 2014-2019 — the first three years of which gain-of-function funding was prohibited.
"The research plan was reviewed by the NIH in advance of funding, and NOH determined that it did not fit the definition of research involving enhanced pathogens of pandemic potential," Tabak wrote.
He then said that over the course of the research, new findings would have mandated further review over whether it met the definition for gain-of-function. "EcoHealth failed to report this finding right away, as was required by the terms of the grant," Tabak wrote.
EcoHealth now has five days to send the NIH "any and all unpublished data from the experiments and work conducted" with the support of American tax dollars, The Federalist said.
Paul took to Twitter on Wednesday night to address the NIH letter.
"'I told you so' doesn’t even begin to cover it here," Paul tweeted with a copy of the letter.
The NIH letter came two weeks after agency director Francis Collins resigned.
The HHS inspector general launched a probe of the NIH grant funding of research to study bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in June.
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