Last year, while considering semiconductor subsidy legislation, the Senate unanimously adopted my amendment to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to finance gain-of-function research conducted in China.
Last week, rather than allowing the conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills, the Senate rushed to pass the so-called CHIPS-Plus legislation, a bill that would spend $50 billion on taxpayer-funded bailouts for the semiconductor industry.
But, in the rush to pass this newly emerged legislation, some of the provisions the Senate previously agreed to were cut from the bill, including my amendment designed to help prevent the next pandemic.
So, despite unanimously passing my amendment a year ago, Senate Democrats objected to my efforts to add my amendment back in, and now this latest act of corporate welfare does not contain the prohibition on funding gain-of-function research in China.
For those unfamiliar with gain of function research, it is essentially juicing up naturally occurring animal viruses to infect humans.
The dangers are so acute that from 2014-2017, the National Institutes of Health suspended funding for all gain-of-function projects.
This process is nothing new, scientists in the United States have long known how to mutate animal viruses to infect humans.
For years, Dr. Ralph Baric, a virologist in the U.S. has been collaborating with Dr. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Virology Institute, sharing his discoveries about how to create super viruses.
Dr. Baric and Dr. Shi worked together to insert bat virus spike protein into the backbone of the deadly SARS virus and then used the man-made super virus to infect human airway cells.
Sounds like gain of function research to anyone with ears to hear.
Professor Richard Ebright, laboratory director for the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University, has said “The work is far outside the bounds of normal biomedical research.”
David Relman, a microbiologist at Stanford University noted that this type of research was "highly risky" and brought the possibility that researchers could have made a virus more dangerous for humans.
Even outside the science community, many have begun to question gain of function research, why U.S. taxpayers would be funding such dangerous research in communist China, and the potential it caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
As far back as January of 2021, Nicholson Baker of the New York Magazine began questioning gain of function research in the Wuhan lab and the possibility that COVID-19 originated in a lab.
Baker described the technique Dr. Baric developed which "forces" mutations by serial passage through cell culture, so mutations then appear "natural."
Baker says, "Nobody would know if the virus had been fabricated in a laboratory or grown in nature."
However, government bureaucrats in the U.S., including Dr. Anthony Fauci, unequivocally deny that COVID-19 could have escaped a lab, and continue to ignore that taxpayers funded gain-of-function research in China through NIH grants to EcoHealth Alliance.
During a previous Senate HELP hearing, I specifically asked Dr. Fauci about the funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the potential link between the COVID-19 outbreak and the lab itself.
Dr. Fauci, a strong supporter and ardent advocate of gain-of-function research, claimed that the NIH "has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology." Despite Dr. Fauci’s denials --- and there are many --- there is ample evidence that the NIH and the NIAID, under his direction, funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Even to this day, Dr. Fauci continues to support funding for EcoHealth.
Despite the possibility of a lab leak in Wuhan, in 2020 the NIH rewarded EcoHealth with a new grant, this time in the amount of $1.5 million per year for five years.
Giving more taxpayer money to EcoHeath, an organization that has been less than forthcoming about what happened in Wuhan, is malpractice.
While we may never know whether the pandemic arose from a lab in Wuhan or occurred naturally, the emergence of COVID serves as a reminder that dangerous research conducted in a secretive and totalitarian country is simply too risky to fund.
My amendment would have ensured that this never happens in the future. No taxpayer money should ever be used to fund gain-of-function research in China, and because of Dr. Fauci’s allies in the Democratic party, Congress will continue to send your money to fund this reckless research.
Aug. 3, I’ve finally gotten Democrats to agree to the first Congressional hearing on gain-of-function research. Finally, we will begin to shed light on the origins of the pandemic.
You can read the op-ed HERE.