Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Recently the New York Times reported that a growing number of “experts” and scientists have been unable to get their grants for gain-of-function research (cough, risky animal torture) approved.
“Questions about whether Covid leaked from a Chinese laboratory have cast a chill over American virus research, drying up funding for scientists who collect or alter dangerous pathogens and intensifying a debate over those practices,” they said.
A proposal to infect ferrets with a mutant bird flu virus at Pennsylvania State University – denied by the NIH. The scientist behind it, Troy Sutton, said health officials referred to the growing public opinion that the COVID-19 virus originated in the Wuhan lab as a result of gain-of-function research when they advised him to pursue other experiments.
A $125 million program to collect animal viruses on several continents – eliminated by international development officials after complaints from two Republican senators.
And nearly two dozen virologists, some of which spoke to the NYT anonymously out of fear “of jeopardizing funding or career prospects,” told the paper there’s been a professionwide retreat from sensitive experiments. Several claimed they don’t even try to get these grants anymore because they languish in long and opaque government reviews. The horror.
So did government officials all of a sudden get wise to the risks with this research? Did they suddenly develop bleeding hearts for animal welfare, or a genuine concern for the human lives that may be lost if other diseases are created and leaked?
I don’t think so. Rather this is the result of a cumulative effort by the White Coat Waste Project (where I am a Fellow) to bring our own government’s role in this risky research to light—as well as the animal torture it entails. They were the first to expose Fauci’s illegal grants for gain-of-function research in Wuhan using a passthrough organization (EcoHealth Alliance) in 2020 and since then their advocacy efforts have led to the Wuhan lab being defunded entirely. Last year they also got Congress to enact legislation cutting all funding for gain-of-function experiments in China, Russia and other adversarial nations.
“White Coat Waste Project is the only organization lobbying Congress to defund gain-of-function animal labs, and we’re thrilled that following our campaigns and historic investigations, the notorious Wuhan lab that likely caused COVID has finally been blacklisted, the House defunded gain-of-function and other dangerous animal labs are having their taxpayer funding cut and abandoning treacherous gain-of-function experiments on animals that that the public widely opposes,” said Justin Goodman, Senior Vice President of the White Coat Waste Project. “Records show that the NIH and colleges and universities across the country have been resisting reforms to reckless research,” he added.
Not only have those efforts paid off legislatively, but it seems bureaucrats are beginning to feel the pressure from the free market for once. This is why so many likely worked so hard to suppress the information about our funding in the first place, labeling anyone who pointed to a lab leak as the likely origin as a kook. They knew if the American people found out what they’d been doing there would be outrage and it wouldn’t be so easy to get away with anymore. But thanks to WCW and leaders like Senator Rand Paul, who refused to be bullied into silence by Fauci and Co., we did find out. And the pressure campaign is working to end these corrupt practices.
After the discovery of forgotten vials of smallpox on the NIH campus, then President Obama halted gain-of-function research fearing a lab leak. When Trump brought the funding back a secretive board was implemented to review gain-of-function proposals, an additional step in a vetting process that includes lab inspections and university biosafety reviews. Members and their dealings are secretive. It’s this committee that seems to be holding up the grants.
“They just said, ‘You know, there’s a lot of controversy about this kind of work in the news right now,’” Dr. Sutton recalled. “They weren’t comfortable funding it.”
The Times reported, “A year later, in September 2021, the agency instead gave Dr. Sutton money for modified experiments that added the mutations only to a weakened virus. He would also examine them in a petri dish rather than in live animals. The work, undertaken in the same high-security lab, was less risky, he said, but also less informative.”
This is exactly what should be happening. Scientists do not need to be torturing animals with our tax dollars, they also don’t need to be performing unnecessarily risky research that could leak and get us all killed.
The government needs to exit the gain-of-function funding business carte blanche. It’s unethical, far too dangerous, and unnecessary, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
In the meantime, the blanching and balling over the additional review process ought to tell you everything you need to know about whether or not they should be allowed to do risky research in the first place. “Dr. Sutton himself has stopped proposing gain-of-function experiments,” the Times reported (though he bizarrely insists he welcomes oversight). “But the long and unpredictable biosafety process was making it difficult to keep his lab running,” they reported.
“The cost of dealing with the regulations is too high,” he said. “I stopped dreaming up those kinds of experiments.”
Hannah is a Fellow for the White Coat Waste Project, a taxpayer watchdog organization that seeks to end taxpayer-funded animal torture.