After months of lawmakers, most prominently Senator Rand Paul, grilling National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci about the NIH's funding of gain-of-function research, to which both directors denied funding, the NIH revealed on Wednesday that it did in fact fund the research.
In a letter to Representative James Former, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, the NIH revealed that it did in fact fund EcoHealth Alliance's gain-of-function research done in conjunction with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In the fifth and final progress report for Grant R01A11 10964 submitted to NIH in August 2021, it describes a limited experiment conducted using bat coronavirus genome sequences that already existed in nature.
"The limited experiment described in the final progress report provided by EcoHealth Alliance was testing if spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model," the letter states.
"All other aspects of the mice, including the immune system, remained unchanged. In this limited experiment, laboratory mice infected with the SHC014 WIV1 bat coronavirus became sicker than those infected with the WIV1 bat coronavirus. As sometimes occurs in science, this was an unexpected result of the research, as opposed to something that the researchers set out to do. Regardless, the viruses being studied under this grant were genetically very distant from SARS-CoV-2," it continues.
The letter notes that under by NIH in advance of funding, the NIH determined that the research "did not to fit the definition of research involving enhanced pathogens of pandemic potential (ePPP) because these bat coronaviruses had not been shown to infect humans."
It also states that as an additional layer of security, "language was included in the terms and conditions of the grant award to EcoHealth that outlined criteria for a secondary review, such as a requirement that the grantee report immediately a one log increase in growth."
"EcoHealth failed to report this finding right away, as was required by the terms of the grant. EcoHealth is being notified that they have five days from today to submit to NIH any and all unpublished data from the experiments and work conducted under this award. Additional compliance efforts continue," the letter reads.
The letter also went on to stress that the bat coronaviruses studied by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, though similar, is not the same virus that causes COVID-19.
During a Department of Justice oversight hearing with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday, Representative Andy Biggs questioned Garland in regards to Fauci's previous claims that they were not funding the research, noting that the claims given before congress would constitute as perjury, and questioned whether Garland would be opening an investigation into that.
"Again, I'll refer to the long standing departmental norm that we don't comment about investigations pending or unpending, the general point that you're making normally would come with a referral from the relevant committee," responded Garland.
Biggs pointed out to Garland that following the National School Board Association's letter to President Biden, Garland quickly issued a memorandum ordering the FBI to investigate threats to school board members, which includes the impassioned parents speaking at school board meetings against critical race theory.
"The actual point I'm making is, you chose as a response to a letter from the National School Board Association, and as you said earlier today, a newspaper accounts, to issue a memorandum to organize a task force, and investigate and put a chill on parents participation before school boards. Now you say I didn't mean to provide a chill, but that's exactly what any sentient being would have assumed would happen when you ask the federal government to begin looking into this, of course, parents are going to be nervous now. Of course people will step back," said Biggs.
"That's the purpose of my questioning, so when we get to these things like Zuckerberg, Facebook, Kamala Harris, We get to Dr. Fauci is purported perjury. There's no indication, you didn't hold back, you issued a press release. You see the distinction," he continued.