US-funded Wuhan gain of function research has been going on since before 2015

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With the recent admission by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that it did indeed fund gain of function (GOF) research in Wuhan, China, Dr. Anthony Fauci’s denials to Congress on the matter have been directly contradicted by his lead agency boss.

It is important to call attention to a 2015 study entitled “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses show potential for human emergence.” Among its authors is Dr. Zhi Shengli (aka the “Bat Lady”).

As we argued in April 2020, the paper not only established without any reservations that the study participants were engaged in GOF research, but also that it was funded by the United States. It makes clear that there was important research collaboration with American institutions including the University of North Carolina and University of Texas.  Take special note that the study claims that NIH approved the Wuhan Institute of Virology and its American collaborators continuing GOF research in Wuhan even when, in the United States, such research was officially suspended, (the operative language the U.S. government used was “paused”) for three years (2014-2017).

Here is the acknowledgement section of the above 2015 paper:

Research in this manuscript was supported by grants from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease and the National Institute of Aging of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) under awards U19AI109761 (R.S.B.), U19AI107810 (R.S.B.), AI085524 (W.A.M.), F32AI102561 (V.D.M.) and K99AG049092 (V.D.M.), and by the National Natural Science Foundation of China awards 81290341 (Z.-L.S.) and 31470260 (X.-Y.G.), and by USAID-EPT-PREDICT funding from Eco-Health Alliance (Z.-L.S.). Human airway epithelial cultures were supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease of the NIH under award NIH DK065988 (S.H.R.). We also thank M.T. Ferris (Dept. of Genetics, University of North Carolina) for the reviewing of statistical approaches and C.T. Tseng (Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch) for providing Calu-3 cells. Experiments with the full-length and chimeric SHC014 recombinant viruses were initiated and performed before the GOF research funding pause and have since been reviewed and approved for continued study by the NIH. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

The U.S. government, then, funded this research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology through multiple grants from NIH and subunits of NIH and by USAID through the Eco-Health Alliance. Eco-Health Alliance also got millions in backing from the Department of Defense, which is not reported in the 2015 paper.

What is far from clear is why such direct proof of NIH and U.S. government complicity has been systematically buried.

Beyond what seems to be a deliberate cover-up, no one has asked why the U.S. was funding Chinese research in the first place.  Here are some possible reasons:

  1. The U.S. could not carry out research in China during the NIH-imposed research “pause” between 2014 and 2017 without violating U.S. government restrictions. This was very important because not all American scientists supported the “pause.”
  2. The U.S. could gain insight into China’s biotechnology capabilities.  The Chinese were advancing very rapidly and, in parallel, their pharma industry (which is closely connected to families of regime leaders) looked to be able to produce new drugs and vaccines.  (The U.S. depends on a number of drugs and drug precursors from China.)
  3. China’s linkage of coronaviruses with HIV (AIDS) suggests that Chinese pursuit of an AIDs vaccine was extremely important.  In order to build such a vaccine, the coronavirus has to function in humans or near-humans such as monkeys.  As our papers below develop more fully, the financial value of an AIDS vaccine is huge.
  4. The U.S.-China connection also offered pathways into understanding Chinese bioweapons development, one of the reasons that the U.S. Army Ft. Detrick laboratory was working with the Chinese, possibly to learn more.  One of the fascinating and horrifying Chinese ideas floating around at this time was an “ethnic” bioweapon that would only work against a specific ethnic group, such as China’s Turkic Uyghurs.

Please review two related articles, one from Epoch Times in April 2020 and the other from Asia Times in May 2021.


Stephen Bryen is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy and Shoshana Bryen is the Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center

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