In letter, Republicans demand answers from Fauci over past statements on gain-of-function research

A pair of Republicans representing the House Oversight and Judiciary panels sent a letter Wednesday demanding answers from Dr. Anthony Fauci about past statements he’d made regarding funding from the U.S. government for controversial gain-of-function research, the Daily Caller reported.

Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a top adviser to the White House on COVID-19, has faced increased scrutiny in recent weeks following the public release of thousands of pages of emails from the doctor that provided an inside look into his handling of the pandemic in its early stages.

Now, he’s back in the spotlight as Republicans including Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (KY) and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (OH) seek clarification on remarks Fauci made in years past that they say contradicts his current stance on the subject of gain-of-function research.

The controversial type of research has been in headlines in recent weeks amid renewed questions about what started the coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci under fire

“House Republicans remain concerned about the origins of COVID-19, including the increasing possibility it originated and subsequently leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China,” the pair of House Republicans wrote to Fauci on Wednesday, according to the Daily Caller.

The lawmakers reportedly pressed Fauci to confirm the authenticity of a YouTube video from nearly a decade ago that showed him saying, “[w]hat historically investigators have done is to actually create gain-of-function by making mutations, passage adoption, or other genetic techniques, such as reverse genetics.”

The pair of Republicans went on:

In 2014, you, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. (EcoHealth) a grant entitled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.” This grant allowed EcoHealth to “[t]est predictions of [coronavirus]…transmission…using reverse genetics…” Funds from this grant were subsequently awarded to the WIV.

“Using your own definition, it appears the National Institutes of Health funded gain-of-function research at the WIV,” the lawmakers surmised, noting that Fauci had previously told Congress that the NIH “has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the [WIV].”

“Can you please confirm the authenticity of the 2012 video accessible on the YouTube platform? Further, please verify that the 2014 grant description is accurate and explain the apparent discrepancy in your recent testimony?” the letter asked.

“A right to know”

Of course, this isn’t the first time Fauci has faced calls for testimony before Congress. In a separate letter last week, Comer and fellow GOP Rep. Steve Scalise (LA) wrote to the chairs of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus and the House Oversight Committee to lobby for Fauci to appear at a hearing.

“It is now imperative that Dr. Fauci come before our Committees to provide information related to the origins of the novel coronavirus as well as the U.S. government’s role in funding research that may have contributed to the development of the novel coronavirus,” the two wrote, according to the New York Post.

“The American people have a right to know what our government knew about the origins of the pandemic and when it was known,” the Republicans added. But only time will tell if their calls for the truth are soon answered.

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