corona marginalia: origin unknown #2

Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and other health officials testified before the US Senate on May 11th 2021. They answered questions on ongoing Covid-19 prevention measures and guidance, however, Fauci was also directly challenged by Senator Rand Paul about the origins of the virus and specifically his part in gain-of-function research on SARS viruses and with regards to collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV):

When asked by Paul, “Do you fund Dr. Baric’s gain-of-function research?” Fauci made the following admission (italics are mine), “Dr. Baric does not do gain-of-function research, and if it is, it’s according to the guidelines and it is being conducted in North Carolina, not in China.” [from 2:10 mins]

The full exchange between Paul and Fauci is reprinted below. A complete transcript of the Senate hearing is available here: https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/dr-fauci-cdc-director-testify-before-senate-on-covid-19-guidelines-transcript

Sen. Rand Paul:

Dr. Fauci, We don’t know whether the pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan or evolved naturally, but we should want to know. Three million people have died from this pandemic, and that should cause us to explore all possibilities. Instead, government authorities, self-interested in continuing gain-of-function research say there’s nothing to see here. Gain-of-function research, as you know, is juicing up naturally occurring animal viruses to infect humans. To arrive at the truth, the US government should admit that the Wuhan Virology Institute was experimenting to enhance the coronavirus’ ability to infect humans.

Juicing up super-viruses is not new. Scientists in the US have long known how to mutate animal viruses to infect humans. For years, Dr. Ralph Baric, a virologist in the US, has been collaborating with Dr. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Virology Institute, sharing his discoveries about how to create super-viruses. This gain-of-function research has been funded by the NIH. The collaboration between the US and the Wuhan Virology Institute continues. Doctors Baric and Shi worked together to insert bat virus spike protein into the backbone of the deadly SARS virus and then use this man-made super-virus to infect human airway cells.

Think about that for a moment. The SARS virus had a 15% mortality. We’re fighting a pandemic that has about a 1% mortality. Can you imagine if a SARS virus that’s been juiced up and had viral proteins added to it, to the spike protein, if that were released accidentally?

Dr. Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [1:50 mins]

Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Sen. Rand Paul: [2:05 mins]

Do they fund Dr. Baric?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [2:10 mins]
We do not fund gain-

Sen. Rand Paul:

Do you fund Dr. Baric’s gain-of-function research?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [2:15 mins]

Dr. Baric does not do gain-of-function research, and if it is, it’s according to the guidelines and it is being conducted in North Carolina, not in China.

Sen. Rand Paul: [2:25 mins]

You don’t think concerning a bat virus spike protein that he got from the Wuhan Institute into the SARS virus is gain of function?

Dr. Anthony Fauci:

That is not…

Sen. Rand Paul: [2:30 mins]

You would be in the minority because at least 200 scientists have signed a statement from the Cambridge Working Group saying that it is gain-of-function.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [2:40 mins]

Well, it is not. If you look at the grant and you look at the progress reports, it is not gain-of-function, despite the fact that people tweet that, they write about it-

Sen. Rand Paul: [2:50 mins]

Do you support sending money to the Wuhan Virology Institute?

Dr. Anthony Fauci:

We do not send money now to the Wuhan Virology Institute.

Sen. Rand Paul: [2:55 mins]

Do you support sending money? We did under your tutelage. We were sending it through EcoHealth. It was a sub-agency and a sub-grant. Do you support that the money from NIH that was going to the Wuhan Institute.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [3:10 mins]

Let me explain to you why that was done. The SARS-CoV-1 originated in bats in China. It would have been irresponsible of us if we did not investigate the bat viruses and the serology to see who might have been infected in China.

Sen. Rand Paul: [3:30 mins]

Or perhaps it would be irresponsible to send it to the Chinese government that we may not be able to trust with this knowledge and with this incredibly dangerous viruses.

Government scientists like yourself who favour gain-of-function research maintain the disease arose naturally.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [3:45 mins]

I don’t favour gain-of-function research in China. You are saying things that are not correct.

Sen. Rand Paul: [3:50 mins]

Government defenders of gain-of-function, such as yourself, say that COVID-19 mutations were random and not designed by man. But interestingly, the technique that Dr. Baric developed forces mutations by serial passage through cell culture that the mutations appear to be natural. In fact, Dr. Baric named the technique the “No See ’em” technique, because the mutations appear naturally. Nicholas Baker in the New York Magazine said, “Nobody would know if the virus had been fabricated in a laboratory or grown in nature.” Government authorities in the US, including yourself, unequivocally deny that COVID-19 could have escaped a lab, but even Dr. Shi in Wuhan wasn’t so sure. According to Nicholas Baker, Dr. Shi wondered could this new virus have come from her own laboratory. She checked her records frantically and found no matches. “That really took a load off my mind,” she said. “I had not slept for days.”

The director of the gain-of-function research in Wuhan couldn’t sleep because she was terrified that it might be in her lab. Dr. Baric, an advocate of gain-of-function research admits the main problem that the Institute of Virology has is the outbreak occurred in close proximity. What are the odds? Baric responded, “Could you rule out a laboratory escape? The answer in this case is probably not.”

Will you in front of this group, categorically say that the COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage in a laboratory.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [5:20 mins]

I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done, and I’m fully in favour of any further investigation of what went on in China. However, I will repeat again, the NIH and NIAID categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Sen. Rand Paul: [5:45 mins]

But you do support it in the US. We have 11 labs doing it, and you have allowed it here. We have a committee to do it, but the committee is granted every exemption. You’re fooling with Mother Nature here. You’re allowing super-viruses to be created with a 15% mortality. It’s very dangerous. I think it was a huge mistake to share this with China. It’s a huge mistake to allow this to continue in the United States. We should be very careful to investigate where this virus came from.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [6:10 mins]

I fully agree that you should investigate where the virus came from. But again, we have not funded gain-of-function research on this virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. No matter how many times you say it, it didn’t happen.

Sen. Rand Paul: [6:25 mins]

You’re parsing words. You’re parsing words. There was research done with Dr. Shi and Dr. Baric. They have collaborated on gain-of-function research where they enhance the SARS virus to infect human airway cells. They did it by merging a new spike protein on it. That is gain-of-function. That was joint research between the Wuhan Institute and Dr. Baric. You can’t deny it.

*

No research has yet turned up any evidence of an intermediate host for Covid-19 and this leads many scientists to question official claims of zoonotic origins of the virus. On Thursday [Aug 5th], a very detailed and referenced summary of the latest findings was published as an extended article by Counterpunch. The conclusions of authors Jonathan Latham, editor of Independent Science News and Allison Wilson, Science Director at The Bioscience Resource Project, are as follows:

To date, both the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) in New York have refused requests by Congress and others, to allow public access to their existing coronavirus samples and their viral databases. These may hold answers to all the origin questions. But if publicly-funded virologists will not share the samples they already have, and are apparently unwilling to face the conclusions public access might entail, why should anyone reward them to collect more? Indeed, how can research into the origins of COVID-19 meaningfully proceed if virologists will neither share their data nor follow where it leads when they do?

The abject failure of the WHO and also of established science, in China and elsewhere, to genuinely investigate the origin question can thus be explained. The problem is not lack of data. As this article and the creative approaches of members of DRASTIC, and others, have shown, there is plenty of valuable data waiting to be brought forth. Rather, the obstacle is simply a deep and broad fear on the part of the scientific establishment that the trail might lead to a lab leak.

The lack of outrage, or even concern, among the rank and file of the scientific community at the flagrant obstructionism of the WIV and the EHA demonstrates the extent of this fear as clearly as could be wished.

The underlying problem is that academic science is enmeshed in a wider transnational Pandemic Virus Industrial Complex (PVIC) that has sought to suppress lab origin theories and within which the WIV and the EHA are just minor cogs.

The important consequence of this is that outbreak origin investigations are always challenging. They require people who are expert but are either not conflicted or who have demonstrated their independence. Consequently, the best data and analysis on the origin of SARS-CoV-2 will continue to come, we predict, mainly from individuals acting independently of established institutions.

Click here to read the full article entitled “Phylogeographic Mapping of Newly Discovered Coronaviruses Pinpoints the Direct Progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 Originating in Mojiang, China”, published by Counterpunch on August 5th.

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