Concerns About Wuhan Experiments Were Already Getting Shushed Back In 2016
Two employees working under Dr. Anthony Fauci voiced concerns in May 2016 that a taxpayer-funded grant may include gain-of-function experiments on bat coronaviruses at a Wuhan lab, but later dropped the matter after nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance made light of the concerns.
National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Disease staffers Jenny Greer and Erik Stemmy told EcoHealth in a May 28, 2016, letter that a proposed grant “may include” gain of function research, according to documents obtained through a White Coat Waste Project information request.
Greer and Stemmy asked EcoHealth to make its own “determination” as to whether its planned experiments in Wuhan included a gain of function research.
EcoHealth President Peter Daszak submitted his “determination” to the NIAID in a June 8, 2016 letter that made light of potential risks associated with his group’s proposed research in Wuhan, which included the creation of lab-made chimeric coronavirus and denied it involved the gain of function.
The NIAID then gave Daszak the chance to submit an amended version of his letter on June 27, 2016, after a factual error in the initial filing was discovered. The agency then used Daszak’s revised letter, which kept the original June 8 filing date, as the grounds for its own determination on July 7 that EcoHealth’s research did not involve gain of function.
Rutgers University Professor Richard Ebright said that the NIAID’s May 28, 2016, letter to EcoHealth confirms that Fauci was “untruthful in his testimony to Congress” that NIH staff concluded unequivocally that the EcoHealth grant did not include gain of function research.
“The NIH, incredibly, accepted EcoHealth’s belief that this work would not be considered gain of function, and accepted EcoHealth’s rationale for this belief, and accepted EcoHealth’s policy-non compliant proposal for a [10 times] allowance for increased viral growth before stopping work and reporting results,” Ebright said.
“The NIH, in effect, delegated to EcoHealth Alliance the authority to determine whether its research was, or was not gain of function research subject to the funding pause, the authority to set criteria for the determination, and the authority to over-ride federal policies implemented by the White House in 2014-2017 and by HHS in 2017-present,” Ebright added.
Daszak’s letter to the NIAID on June 8, 2016, stated that EcoHealth’s proposed experiments in Wuhan were not gain of function in part because the WIV1 bat coronavirus they intended to use as the basis of their lab-made viruses “has never been demonstrated to infect humans or cause human disease.”
But Daszak’s colleague at UNC Chapel Hill, Ralph Baric, assisted in publishing a study three months prior in March 2016 that found WIV1 had the capability of infecting humans. Baric’s study found that the WIV1 virus posed an “ongoing threat” to humans because it “readily replicated efficiently in human airway cultures and in vivo, suggesting the ability for direct transmission to humans.”
Daszak also said in his June 8, 2016, letter to the NIAID that he would stop experimentation and notify the agency immediately if EcoHealth’s lab-created viruses in Wuhan were enhanced by over one log, or ten times, in comparison to the natural strain used to create it.
Daszak later informed the NIAID staffers in a June 28, 2016, email that he was depending on Wuhan Institute of Virology researcher Shi Zhengli, who has known ties with the Chinese military, to notify him if their lab-created viruses showed enhanced replication.