Bipartisan legislation seeks to freeze funding for gain-of-function research

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Members of Congress introduced bipartisan legislation last Friday to put a freeze on federal funding for the sort of gain-of-function research that some claim is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, titled the Pausing Enhanced Pandemic Pathogen Research Act, was introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., Buddy Carter, R-Ga., and Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and seeks to halt the funding for the controversial research for five years, according to a press release.

Gain-of-function research seeks to find new ways to fight disease by rendering pathogens more infectious and lethal.

The legislation follows a recent report from The Intercept indicating the United States funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), from which some believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus leaked. Dr. Anthony Fauci has faced renewed scrutiny from lawmakers regarding the involvement of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in providing funds to EcoHealth Alliance, which funded bat coronavirus research at the Wuhan lab.

“This is something we never should have allowed without proper oversight and safety protocols,” said Carter. “We knew the dangers of gain-of-function research, but the National Institute of Health and Dr. Fauci continued to fund it in America and overseas.”

“Overwhelming evidence suggests that this very research may have caused a deadly pandemic that upended the world.”

“Evidence continues to mount that COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology with research funded by U.S. taxpayers. We must double down on our efforts to prevent irresponsible research and protect our communities from future pandemics. Our bill will prevent taxpayer funds from being used to conduct gain-of-function research until we can ensure proper safety standards are put in place,” Carter added.

Echoing Carter, Gallagher said, “Overwhelming evidence suggests that this very research may have caused a deadly pandemic that upended the world. While we continue to investigate the origins of COVID-19, the U.S. should – at a minimum – halt all funding for this dangerous research until we understand the role it played in this pandemic. I’m proud to support Rep. Carter’s legislation that does just that.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our economic, educational, and public health well-being. As one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, the United States needs to prepare and invest in measures that help to prevent any future pandemics,” said Cuellar.

“Gain-of-function research has been directly linked to the spark of the coronavirus pandemic. The Pausing Enhanced Pandemic Pathogen Research Act is the best path forward to ensure that we avoid U.S. taxpayer funds from falling into the wrong hands. I look forward to working closely with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that we pass responsible legislation for our futures,” he added.

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