(HorizonPost.com) – According to a June internal National Institutes of Health (NIH) presentation, the organization labeled legislation intended to cut funding for gain-of-function research as “amendments to watch” and claimed that it was based on “conspiracy theories.”
Four amendments to the America Competes Act of 2022 are listed as “amendments to watch” in the Director’s Report presentation, which was made on June 9 at the 124th Advisory Committee to the Director Meeting and discovered by taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project. The four amendments, all proposed by Republicans, aim to limit funding for gain-of-function studies in rival nations and work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The amendments, according to Adrienne Hallett, NIH Associate Director for Legislative Policy and Analysis, “have a lot to do with policymakers reacting to many of the controversies, many of the conspiracy theories that swirled during the pandemic.”
Gain-of-function research has long been funded by the NIH, directly or indirectly, in the United States and other countries. That funding was suspended between 2014 and 2017 but resumed under the Trump administration. Gain-of-function research in this context refers to scientific experimentation that increases infectiousness, lethality, or both pathogens.
According to some experts, a lab mishap at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where U.S.-funded gain-of-function research was conducted, may have caused the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many Republican legislators have urged the NIH to stop funding the risky research or have proposed legislation to do so.
The legislators include Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, California Rep. Darrell Issa, and Texas Reps. Michael McCaul and Ronny Jackson.
“New information about the relationship between risky viral pathogen projects and NIH funding is being uncovered every day by our investigation,” the Republican senator from Kansas, Roger Marshall, said.
Marshall is one of many Republicans who has made understanding the causes of COVID-19 a top priority while reducing government funding for gain-of-function research. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa is another. She said that it is “no conspiracy theory” that NIH lost track of how taxpayer money was used for risky coronavirus research at China’s Wuhan Institute.
“NIH should concentrate its attention on adhering to the law and learning what actually transpired at the Wuhan Institute,” she said, rather than monitoring what is happening in Congress.
White Coat Waste Project has opposed gain-of-function research and other animal testing approved by government organizations. Many experts, including Dr. Richard Ebright of Rutgers University’s Department of Microbiology, disagree with the “conspiracy theory” theory.
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