A new report says that two staffers working with Dr. Anthony Fauci had flagged experiments that possibly included gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Viroloogy in 2016.
The report from the Daily Caller News Foundation would toss a wrench into the contentious debate between officials like Fauci who deny gain-of-function was ever funded by the NIH at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and those like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who have criticized them heavily.
Documents obtained from the DCNF showed officials debating whether the research in question was subject to a funding pause from the government that was implemented in 2014.
The two staffers from the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Disease told EcoHealth of the problem in a letter mailed on May 28, 2016.
EcoHealth President Peter Daszak responded in a letter on June 8, 2016 that downplayed the threat from their research and denied that it should be categorized as gain-of-function.
DCNF said Daszak argued that the research used a bat coronavirus that "has never been demonstrated to infect humans or cause human disease."
Daszak also claimed that he would be notified if the research led to a virus with enhanced replication, but admitted that this would rely on Wuhan Institute of Virology researcher Shi Zhengli, who is known to have ties to the Chinese military.
"UNC has no oversight of the chimera work, all of which will be conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology," wrote Daszak in one email.
Daszak's trust was evidently misplaced. In an October 20, 2021 letter, the NIH admitted that the research carried out at the WIV under Daszak's grant exceeded the terms of the grant proposal, and further required EcoHealth Alliance to supplement their report to the NIH concerning this reearch.
Daszak expressed his happiness in a later email after the NIAID staffers agreed that the gain-of-function funding pause did not apply to his research.
"This is terrific!" Daszak wrote in July 11, 2016. "We are very happy to hear that our Gain of Function research funding pause has been lifted."
The possibility that the coronavirus might have arisen from gain-of-function experiments would significantly strengthen the argument that the pandemic was accidentally leaked or even purposely planned by Chinese officials.
Fauci specifically called that implication "unconscionable" when defending his position on CNN in October.
"When people talk about gain-of-function, they make that implication which I think is unconscionable to do, to say, well, maybe that research led to SARS-CoV-2," Fauci said. "You can ask any person of good faith who's a virologist, and they will tell you, absolutely clearly, that that would be molecularly impossible."
In response to the debate, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa introduced a bill to completely ban such research and to punish officials who lied to Congress about any funding related to the research.
Here's more about the gain-of-function debate:
Rand Paul on the TRUE DANGERS of Fauci's gain-of-function research www.youtube.com