The Senate passed an amendment Wednesday that will permanently ban all funding for gain-of-function research in China.
In the simplest explanation, gain-of-function research is research that alters an organism or disease to make it more transmissible, or pathogenic, Business Insider reports.
Brought forth by Dr. Rand Paul, the amendment is co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Johnson, Tommy Tuberville, Mike Braun, Thom Tillis and Dr. Roger Marshall.
“We don’t know whether the pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan or evolved naturally,” Paul said. “While many still deny funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan, experts believe otherwise. The passage of my amendment ensures that this never happens in the future. No taxpayer money should have ever been used to fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan, and now we permanently have put it to a stop.”
Senate Amendment 2003 bans the National Institutes of Health and any other U.S. agency from funding any gain-of-function research in China.
The amendment defines gain-of-function research as “any research project that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity or transmissibility in mammals.”
In a hearing this month - during which Dr. Paul asked Fauci about the potential link between the COVID-19 outbreak and the Wuhan Institute of Virology - Dr. Fauci told Paul his claims about NIH funding gain-of-function research in China are false.
“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Fauci said.
But, as explained on Paul’s website, despite Fauci’s denial, there is sufficient evidence that NIH - under Fauci’s direction - did, in fact, fund this research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.