An investigation has found that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, did not warn Trump administration officials before a ban was removed on gain-of-function research back in 2017 and also claimed the benefits of the controversial research outweighed the risk of pandemic.
According to investigative reporter Shari Markson, "An investigation by The Weekend Australian has also confirmed Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, did not alert senior White House officials before lifting the ban on gain-of-function research in 2017."
Trump administration officials told The Weekend Australian that Fauci didn't alert the White House to the restart in gain-of-function research.
"It kind of just got rammed through," one official said to the news outlet. "I think there's truth in the narrative that the (National Security Council) staff, the president, the White House chief-of-staff, those people were in the dark that he was switching back on the research."
The NIH has come under fire in recent weeks, especially by Sen. Rand Paul, over whether American taxpayer money funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which Fauci maintains it has not.
"Yet papers published as late as last year in American peer-reviewed academic journals that include WIV researchers – including its prominent virologist Shi Zhengli – disclose that work on coronaviruses had been funded by at least three NIH grants," wrote Markson.
The NIH gave grant money to EcoHealth alliance, which gave nearly $600,000 over six years to the Wuhan lab "to conduct genetic analyses of bat coronaviruses collected in Yunnan province," according to Politifact.
Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees have reportedly launched an investigation into the taxpayer funded NIH grant given to EcoHealth.
Markson also revealed previously unreported statements made by Fauci back in 2012 when he defended the "voluntary moratorium on gain-of-function research related to the transmissibility of highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza," pending "the resolution of critical policy questions concerning the rationale for performing such experiments and how best to report their results." Fauci said the benefits of gain of function research outweighed the risk of a pandemic.
"Putting aside the specter of bioterrorism for the moment, consider this hypothetical scenario: an important gain-of-function experiment involving a virus with serious pandemic potential is performed in a well-regulated, world-class laboratory by experienced investigators, but the information from the experiment is then used by another scientist who does not have the same training and facilities and is not subject to the same regulations," wrote Fauci.
"In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic?"
"Scientists working in this field might say—as indeed I have said—that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks," Fauci continued.
"It is more likely that a pandemic would occur in nature, and the need to stay ahead of such a threat is a primary reason for performing an experiment that might appear to be risky.
"However, we must respect that there are genuine and legitimate concerns about this type of research, both domestically and globally," Fauci said.