Dr. Anthony Fauci’s 2012 views regarding gain-of-function (GoF) research resurfaced Wednesday after Republican Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall referenced his previous comments in a Senate hearing on the subject.
In a 2012 piece, Fauci said that GoF research, which involves modifying pathogens to make them more lethal and more infectious to humans, was worth the risk of an accident for the potential scientific benefits. However, in words that now hang eerily over the COVID-stricken world, he warned that unregulated labs in foreign countries could lead to an accidental pandemic due to a leak of a disease.
Sen @RogerMarshallMD reminds us of an “almost prophetic” stmt from Fauci: “He worried about unregulated laboratories, perhaps outside of the United States, doing work sloppily and leading to an inadvertent pandemic… accidental release is what the world is really worried about.” pic.twitter.com/lBy2VkgMgY
— Dylan Housman (@Dylan_Housman) August 3, 2022
“The issue that has been intensely debated is whether knowledge obtained from these experiments could inadvertently affect public health in an adverse way, even in nations multiple time zones away,” Fauci wrote a decade ago. “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,” Fauci posited. “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?”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said that many people were raising “reasonable questions” about such a possibility. (RELATED: ‘That’s Not Science, That’s Conjecture’: Rand Paul Goes After Fauci Over Vaccines)
“We cannot expect those who have these concerns to simply take us, the scientific community, at our word that the benefits of this work outweigh the risks, nor can we ignore their calls for greater transparency, their concerns about conflicts of interest, and their efforts to engage in a dialog about whether these experiments should have been performed in the first place,” he went on to add.
Fauci’s old views were highlighted by Marshall during a Senate oversight hearing Wednesday regarding GoF research. Republicans invited three scientists with expertise in the field to discuss whether GoF research is worth the potential risks, whether the U.S. should fund said research in foreign countries and what changes need to be made to the regulatory structure to ensure it’s done safely, if at all.
Dr. Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University molecular biologist, accused Fauci of lying about GoF research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) over the past decade. Fauci has repeatedly maintained that the work funded by NIH was not GoF, but Ebright contends that the world to make bat-based coronaviruses more dangerous fits the definition perfectly.