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White House Defends Fauci amid Allegations of Lying to Congress about Gain-of-Function Research

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., September 9, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Dr. Anthony Fauci from renewed allegations that Fauci misled Congress about the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) funding of gain of function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China in a press conference on Thursday.

Gain of function research refers to efforts to improve a virus’s capabilities in order to study and develop treatments for it.

Fauci has repeatedly insisted that the NIH has funded nothing that could reasonably be considered gain of function research in Wuhan. Many disagree. Dr. Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert at Rutgers University told National Review in May that NIH funded research in Wuhan “matches — indeed epitomizes — the definition of ‘gain of function research of concern’ for which federal funding was ‘paused’ in 2014-2017.”

Earlier this week, The Intercept published new documents — including a grant proposal — that described research that Ebright again deems gain of function. “The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell,” he told The Intercept.

Psaki was indignant when asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy if President Joe Biden would consider relieving Fauci of his positions as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections diseases and chief medical advisor to the president, insisting that “NIH has refuted that reporting.”

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