NIH Erases Website’s Section on Gain of Function Amid Fauci Fallout

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(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By HANNAH BLEAU The National Institutes of Health (NIH) this month subtly erased its section on gain of function from its website following months of Dr. Anthony Fauci falsely denying that the organization funded such research.

The original page was reportedly altered this month. It featured a series of sections, including one on gain of function, which was as follows:

The term gain-of-function (GOF) research describes a type of research that modifies a biological agent so that it confers new or enhanced activity to that agent. Some scientists use the term broadly to refer to any such modification. However, not all research described as GOF entails the same level of risk. For example, research that involves the modification of bacteria to allow production of human insulin, or the altering of the genetic program of immune cells in CAR-T cell therapy to treat cancer generally would be considered low risk. The subset of GOF research that is anticipated to enhance the transmissibility and/or virulence of potential pandemic pathogens, which are likely to make them more dangerous to humans, has been the subject of substantial scrutiny and deliberation. Such GOF approaches can sometimes be justified in laboratories with appropriate biosafety and biosecurity controls to help us understand the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, assess the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents, and inform public health and preparedness efforts, including surveillance and the development of vaccines and medical countermeasures. This research poses biosafety and biosecurity risks, and these risks must be carefully managed. When supported with NIH funds, this subset of GOF research may only be conducted in laboratories with stringent oversight and appropriate biosafety and biosecurity controls(link is external) to help protect researchers from infection and prevent the release of microorganisms into the environment. (NIH)

However, the page no longer includes gain of function — only Potential Pandemic Pathogens, ePPP Research, and Oversight.

“Dr. Fauci never loses! (At least according to his left wing media buds),” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), one of Fauci’s leading critics, observed.

“Fauci’s latest ‘win’ involves the NIH eliminating ‘gain-of-function’ definition from their website,” he continued.

“Dr. Fauci now maintains experiments are only ‘gain-of-function’ if experimenters knew in advance that the newly created virus would gain lethality,” he explained.

“Hmm…So you can take any unknown bat virus and recombine it with the back bone of a known coronavirus and it doesn’t qualify as gain of function, even if you discover that it gains function?” the Kentucky Republican asked. “Clear as mud and just as slimy.”

The NIH sent a letter to lawmakers last week, admitting a grant awarded to EcoHealth Alliance was then sub-awarded to the Wuhan lab, which funded a project testing to see “if spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.”

For months, Fauci has denied that it funded gain of function research and even denied their own definition of the research during a contentious Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions hearing in July.

The chief White House medical adviser remained obstinate, maintaining that he did not lie about gain of function research occurring.

“You take an animal virus and you increase this transmissibility to humans, you’re saying that’s not gain of function?” Paul asked during the hearing.

“Yeah, that is correct, and Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about,” Fauci shot back.

“This is your definition that you guys wrote. It says that scientific research that increases the transmissibility among animals is gain of function. They took animal viruses that only occur in animals and they increase their transmissibility to humans. How you can say that is not gain of function?” Paul asked, prompting another denial from Fauci.

Paul recently renewed his calls for Fauci to be fired “just for a lack of judgment if nothing else.”

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