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Fauci Says the UnthinkableDr. Anthony Fauci says he never looked at the grants.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a newly disclosed interview that he signed off on thousands of grants without reviewing them.

“I sign off on each … but I don’t see the grants and what they are. I never look at what grants are there,” Dr. Fauci told the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. “It’s just somebody at the end of the council where they’re all finished and they go, ‘Here,’ and you sign it.”

Dr. Fauci, 83, was the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) from 1984 to late 2022.

Grant proposals first go to a group of peers. If they pass through that group, they are received by the NIAID’s National Advisory Council.

Dr. David Morens, one of Dr. Fauci’s top advisers while he was in the government, had written in an email that “Tony doesn’t maintain awareness of these things and doesn’t know unless program officers tell him, which they rarely do.”

“We have very highly trained subject matter experts at the program level that look at the grants and monitor the grants.  Dr. Fauci told the subcommittee. ”It would be physically impossible for me to get into and look at every grant.”

He was speaking in January, but the transcript of the two-day interview was not released until May 31, several days ahead of Dr. Fauci’s public appearance before the panel.

Dr. Fauci said he was not aware of the grant to the EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based organization, until after the COVID-19 pandemic started. The grant began in 2014 and included money that was funneled to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where Chinese researchers experimented on bat coronaviruses.

Some of the U.S.-funded experiments resulted in increased pathogenicity, or sicker mice, according to a 2019 progress report that was filed two years late, government officials disclosed in 2021.
Dr. Fauci said in several public hearings that the experiments didn’t fit the meaning of gain of function, which the U.S. government defined through 2021 as any research “that modifies a biological agent so that it confers new or enhanced activity to that agent.”

The government “has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the” Wuhan lab, he said in one hearing.

Several officials at the National Institutes of Health, the NIAID’s parent agency, told the subcommittee in recent interviews that Dr. Fauci was wrong.

“It certainly is an example of generic ‘gain-of-function,’” Dr. Lawrence Tabak, the agency’s deputy director, said.

Dr. Fauci was apprised of those comments. He said he was referring to the “operative” definition of gain-of-function as outlined in Framework for Guiding Funding Decisions about Proposed Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens, or the P3CO framework.

Mandate Comments

After a federal judge in 2022 struck down the federal government’s mask mandate for travelers, Dr. Fauci said, “We are concerned about that, about courts getting involved in things that are unequivocally a public health decision” and “it should not have been a court issue.”

Questioned about those remarks, Dr. Fauci told the subcommittee that courts have jurisdiction over matters they’re supposed to but that he was “a little bit concerned that we were getting a judge who may or may not have had any experience in health or public health overriding the order of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” or the CDC.

Does Dr. Fauci believe Americans retain constitutional rights, even in emergencies?

“I believe strongly in the Constitution of the United States,” Dr. Fauci said.

The CDC, running counter to the World Health Organization and many other developed countries, during the pandemic recommended masking of children as young as 2 years old.

Dr. Fauci said he was not aware of any risk-benefit analysis conducted to support that recommendation and that he did not recall reviewing any studies or data that support masking children.

When it was noted that papers indicated children suffered issues with speech development and other areas due to the widespread wearing of masks, Dr. Fauci said that the studies were conflicting and that he believes the possibility of masking having a negative impact on development is still “up in the air.” Some papers have found masking didn’t do much damage to children’s language processing ability.

Dr. Fauci also said that he’s not sure whether vaccine mandates created hesitancy among people to receive vaccines.

“I think one of the things that we really need to do after the fact, now … we really need to take a look at the psyche of the country, have maybe some social-type studies to figure out, does the mandating of vaccines in the way the country’s mental framework is right now, does that actually cause more people to not want to get vaccinated, or not? I don’t know,” he said. But I think that’s something we need to know.”

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