The Wuhan Lab and the Gain-of-Function Disagreement

Source: FactCheck.org.

This story usefully outlines the controversy which underlies the Rand Paul/Anthony Fauci video posted here yesterday. The controversy can be distilled to a single question: Did the National Institutes of Health fund gain-of-function research at the virology lab in Wuhan?

The answer, it turns out, depends on how you define “gain-of-function research.”

To the scientist, gain-of-function refers to modifying a natural virus so that is has capabilities which nature didn’t give it. Notice, however, that research to support that objective isn’t limited to just the act of modifying a virus. First, the scientist must identify candidate viruses to be modified, catalog their functions, and discover how those functions operate. All of these activities could be described as gain-of-function research, even though no gain of function is ever produced.

To the NIH bureaucrat, gain-of-function research refers to any research prohibited by a federal ban enacted in 2014: “Specifically, the funding pause [ban] will apply to gain-of-function research projects that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility in mammals via the respiratory route.”

To the ethicist, gain-of-function research refers to any viral intervention with a known risk of going catastrophically awry.

Thus, each user of the term has his own fuzzy language/logic puzzles to deal with. The NIH bureaucrats, however, face a special, practical problem: Did they break the law?

19 thoughts on “The Wuhan Lab and the Gain-of-Function Disagreement

  1. Thanks. Excellent piece.

    The quote from Tucker Carlson stood out . . .

    “The guy in charge of America’s response to COVID turns out to be the guy who funded the creation of COVID. We’re speaking of Tony Fauci and the gain-of-function experiments at the Wuhan laboratory that the U.S. government with his approval paid for.”

    Given the facts as we know them from this article, that is an outrageous LIE and it is the same LIE that Senator Paul was peddling in that exchange. So, thanks again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “Given the facts as we know them from this article, that is an outrageous LIE and it is the same LIE that Senator Paul was peddling in that exchange.”

      If NIH broke the law, Carlson’s speculation will have been the truth.

      Like

          1. Bullshit. The policy in question does not have the force of law. NIH made the policy and NIH could change it. Which really does not matter since the policy was not violated.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. RE: “NIH made the policy and NIH could change it.”

            But they didn’t change it. They are accused of violating the policy while it was in effect.

            Like

  2. Remember that Carlson told the world that he is not to be taken seriously.

    He is just a “fun guy” telling lies for your viewing pleasure.

    And yet, there are folks who actually believe him.

    Can you imagine? 😇

    Liked by 3 people

  3. The Entrenched Bureaucracy, or Deep State, is neither Republican nor Democrat. They are unelected and arrogant apparatchiks who disdain elected officials and those who vote for them, and simply use backdoor means to do what they think best no matter who is in office. Fauci is one of theirs.

    It would appear that when the ignorant peasants outlawed gain-of-function research, our betters just farmed it out to foreign labs to get around the will of Congress.

    Some here will cheer for that. I don’t.

    Like

    1. As always your rant is a pack of lies. Your characterization of Fauci and the other professionals at CDC and NIH is moronic.

      Outlawed? What law are you talking about?

      There was no such farming out. The people working in Wuhan were Americans there to study the dangers of the wildlife-human interface in bats which has generated dangerous viruses twice in the past few years.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. RE: “Which was NOT violated.”

            The Great Murphy knows all. You say the policy was not violated, but that is an open question at present.

            Like

      1. RE: “The people working in Wuhan were Americans there to study the dangers of the wildlife-human interface in bats which has generated dangerous viruses twice in the past few years.”

        That likely would meet the scientists’ definition of gain-of-function research I mentioned in the post. It might also meet the NIH bureaucrats’ definition.

        Like

          1. And you do? At the top of this thread you thought the Fact Check article supported your position on gain of function. It doesn’t, but you misinterpreted it that way.

            Like

          2. And you do?

            I never claimed to be an expert on esoteric molecular biology. But Dr. Fauci is. I trust Dr. Fauci and take him at his word. He was prepared to share the evidence supporting his statements at that hearing but was basically shouted down. The material you provided also supports what he said. There is no open question waiting to be answered. Fake Doctor Paul is grandstanding because making wild accusations against Dr. Fauci is popular with the people who will be choosing the next GOP Presidential candidate.

            Liked by 1 person

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