Perhaps now wasn’t the time to be conferring an honorary degree upon Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Sure, there are likely some on the left who are wondering why their sainted hero hasn’t been made an actual saint by the Vatican yet. (“Whaddya mean — you have to be dead?”)
However, out on the rest of the political spectrum, those who were paying attention were likely curious why an honorary doctorate was bestowed Saturday on the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases by the prestigious Mayo Clinic.
The honor came only days after new documents indicated Fauci may have lied to Congress when he said his institute had never paid for so-called “gain-of-function” research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The documents were first reported by The Intercept, a left-of-center outlet, on Sept. 6. In the 900 pages detailing the work of EcoHealth Alliance, a biomedical nonprofit that received federal grants for its research into bat coronaviruses at the Chinese laboratory, it emerged that the risks of the research were apparent and — most importantly — some of the work involved essentially creating variants of viruses from existing samples, not just researching them.
Of the $3.1 million provided to EcoHealth Alliance in federal grants, $599,000 was given to the health organization to work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology for experiments with bat coronaviruses that could potentially infect humans, including work that would alter the viruses to make them more potent.
Lab animals were used, Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard Ebright told The Intercept, but they were lab animals as stand-ins for humans.
“The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell,” Ebright wrote to the outlet.
In a separate series of Twitter posts, Ebright wrote that the newly released documents “confirm the grants supported the construction — in Wuhan — of novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses that combined a spike gene from one coronavirus with genetic information from another coronavirus, and confirmed the resulting viruses could infect human cells.”
The materials reveal that the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses also could infect mice engineered to display human receptors on cells (“humanized mice”).
— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) September 7, 2021
“The materials further reveal for the first time that one of the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses — one not been previously disclosed publicly — was more pathogenic to humanized mice than the starting virus from which it was constructed and thus not only was reasonably anticipated to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity, but, indeed, was *demonstrated* to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity,” he added.
…and thus not only was reasonably anticipated to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity, but, indeed, was *demonstrated* to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity.
— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) September 7, 2021
As the Daily Caller noted, Fauci had previously told Congress in May that both the National Institute of Health and NIAID “categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
That may be true only on a technicality: “The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed,” The Intercept reported.
However, Fauci’s testimony is key. Given that a bat coronavirus is the closest relative and most likely origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, “gain-of-function” research that changed the virus to be more pathogenic to humans would make the lab-leak theory of the pandemic’s origins that much more probable. The fact that the experiments were conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab — not at a level 4 lab, which receives the strictest measures — only increases suspicions.
To Fauci critics, like Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Fauci was simply lying to Congress. And he wants Fauci to pay the consequences.
“It’s a felony punishable by five years in jail,” Paul told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a Sept. 7 interview, according to the Washington Examiner. “We’ve referred it to the Department of Justice. I don’t think Biden’s Department of Justice will do anything with it, but yes, it is very dangerous to have public officials, who we need to have trust in, coming and lying to us.”
I have already asked the DOJ to review Fauci’s testimony for lying to Congress. This report should make it abundantly clear that he needs to be held accountable.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 7, 2021
“I have already asked the DOJ to review Fauci’s testimony for lying to Congress,” Paul wrote in a Twitter post published the same day.
And yet, on Saturday, the Mayo Clinic’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Fauci, turning over a virtual stage to the liberal-media celebrity to wax ecstatic about the virtues of capital-S Science.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a controversial figure at the helm of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was presented with an honorary degree from Mayo Clinic Saturday. https://t.co/EaCjmwn38q
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) September 15, 2021
“We have learned collectively to be open-minded and humble enough to re-examine and even change our recommendations, our guidelines, our policies, depending on the evolving data,” Fauci told graduates of the school, according to Alpha News Minnesota, a regional conservative publication that covered the virtual speech given to the Rochester, Minnesota, medical institution.
“Importantly, in the context of your career choice as scientists, where public health measures have in part failed in the response to COVID-19, it is science that has been our savior,” he added.
“For the speed and efficacy with which highly efficacious vaccines were developed and their potential for saving millions of lives were due to an extraordinary, multidisciplinary effort involving basic preclinical and clinical science that had been underway, out of the spotlight and under the radar screen, for decades before the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fauci said.
That may all be true, but that also wasn’t the time to be offering a paean to almighty science just when it’s coming out that “gain-of-function” research could indeed be responsible for the coronavirus pandemic — and that there are serious questions as to whether Fauci was telling the truth or lying to Congress regarding funding for that kind of research from the NIH and NIAID.
In other words, it was no time for the Mayo Clinic to be giving an honorary degree to Anthony Fauci.
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