Critics have accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of lying after newly released documents appear to contradict his claims that the National Institute of Health did not fund gain-of-function research at China’s Wuhan lab.
The documents, obtained by The Intercept via a Freedom of Information Act request, detail of the work of EcoHealth Alliance — the nonprofit that funneled federal grant money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research.
Included in the trove of documents is a previously unpublished grant proposal that EcoHealth Alliance filed with Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
The proposal was for a project titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence”, which involved screening thousands of bat samples, as well as people who worked with live animals, for novel coronaviruses, the outlet said.
The $3.1 million grant was awarded for a five-year period between 2014 to 2019. After the funding was renewed in 2019, it was suspended by the Trump administration in April 2020.
The grant directed $599,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research.
The proposal acknowledged the risks of such research, saying: “Fieldwork involves the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, while working in caves with high bat density overhead and the potential for fecal dust to be inhaled.”
Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, said the documents made it clear Dr. Fauci had been “untruthful” about gain-of-function research.
“The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful,” he tweeted.
“The materials show that the 2014 and 2019 NIH grants to EcoHealth with subcontracts to WIV funded gain-of-function research as defined in federal policies in effect in 2014-2017 and potential pandemic pathogen enhancement as defined in federal policies in effect in 2017-present.”
Fauci has repeatedly insisted that NIH funding of the Wuhan lab does not constitute as “gain-of-function” research.
NIH funding of work at the Wuhan lab has come under increasing scrutiny amid the pandemic, with Republican senators like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tom Cotton of Arkansas accusing Fauci of lying about whether the money was used for gain of function research.
Fauci clashed with Paul during a Senate hearing in July after the Kentucky senator quizzed the infectious disease expert about earlier testimony he had given in which he denied NIH-funded gain of function research.
Paul, citing two academic papers by the Wuhan institute, accused Fauci of “obfuscating the truth” by not admitting that the lab was involved in gain-of-function research.
Fauci told the hearing the research had been evaluated “multiple times by qualified people” who found it did not “fall under the gain of function definition.”