‘Godfather of Gain of Function’: WaPo lays out Fauci’s possible role in Wuhan lab

‘Godfather of Gain of Function’: WaPo lays out Fauci’s possible role in Wuhan lab
Anthony Fauci (Image: YouTube screen grab)

By Eleanor Bartow

People do not want to acknowledge Dr. Anthony Fauci’s possible role in contributing to the outbreak of COVID-19, according to a Washington Post columnist.

“People don’t want to think about the fact that our hero of the pandemic Dr. Fauci might also have been connected to this research which might also have been connected to the outbreak” of COVID-19, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin told The Megyn Kelly Show on Wednesday.

Fauci is director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The NIH has funded “gain of function” research, which aims to predict future pandemics and create vaccines by creating novel strains of viruses. But those strains can be highly transmissible and deadly.

“The head of the entire field really is Anthony Fauci — he’s the godfather of gain-of-function research as we know it” said Rogin, adding that what he said was “too hot for TV.”

Rogin cautioned that he was not saying Fauci did anything illegal, but that the public should be more aware of this type of research.

“There’s plenty of evidence to support the still unproven theory that COVID-19 originated from an accidental leak from one of the labs in Wuhan that was doing gain of function research,” Rogin told Kelly.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology lab gathers bats for gain-of-function research on coronaviruses, supported with millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds, Rogin said. The lab is 10 miles from where COVID-19 is thought to have broken out and the lab had “very little to no oversight,” according to Rogin.

“If you were an alien and dropped down on earth” and looked at the evidence, the simplest explanation for the virus’s origin is a lab leak, he said.

Scientists fear to speak out against gain-of-function research because they receive funding from the NIH, according to Rogin. “So we can’t say anything like ‘gain of function might be dangerous or [COVID-19] may have come from a lab’ because we are going to loose our careers, we are going to lose our funding,” Rogin said many scientists have told him. Scientists whose whole life work was invested in gain-of-function research would have their careers and legacies “ruined forever.”

“More and more” scientists are feeling free to say it is worth considering if COVID-19 leaked from a lab after the former director of the Centers for Disease Control said he considers a lab leak the most likely source of COVID-19, Rogin said.

U.S. dependence on China’s supply chain has allowed China to threaten retaliation if the U.S. is critical of China’s role in COVID-19’s outbreak, Rogin wrote in his book, “Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the Twenty-First Century.”

“Privately but explicitly, Chinese diplomats threatened US State Department officials that they would cut off their exports of medical supplies to the United States if Washington wasn’t careful about the charges that it leveled against Beijing,” Rogin writes of the early days of the pandemic.

“The grim reality of the controls that China was already putting on American companies’ factories there, convinced everyone in the White House that US dependence on critical supply chains in China was a huge problem,” Rogin reports.

The origin of the virus is not a political issue, it’s a public health issue, Rogin said in his interview with Kelly. We need to know the origin of COVID-19, not to blame China but to prevent the next pandemic, he said.

China has blocked access to related information and the World Health Organization is not functioning well, he said.

The media coverage of the lab leak theory has been dismissive and biased because the press believed scientists more than the Trump administration, Rogin said. But Donald Trump is no longer president and “a lot more evidence is now pointing to the lab” a year since the pandemic started, so journalists who said a lab leak was a conspiracy theory should consider if they were mistaken, Rogin said.

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