A Times of Israel blog writes:

Back in October 2014, the US government had placed a federal moratorium on gain-of-function (GOF) research—altering natural pathogens to make them more deadly and infectious–as a result of rising fears about a possible pandemic caused by accidental or deliberate release of these genetically engineered monster germs. [...]

As such in October 2014, due to public health concerns the US government banned all federal funding on efforts to weaponize three viruses—influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

In the face of a moratorium in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci–director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and currently the leading doctor in the US Coronavirus Task Force–outsourced in 2015 the GOF research to China’s Wuhan lab and licensed the lab to continue receiving federal funding.

The Wuhan lab is now at the center of scrutiny for possibly releasing theSARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and causing the global Covid-19 pandemic. [...]

Since the federal ban on GOF research has been lifted, US labs can continue creating these monster germs domestically and would no longer need to outsource to China.

The "weaponize" claim is already hilarious and a big red flag for the credibility of the subsequent claims in that piece (as are the repeated uses of "monster germs"), but did Fauci outsource such GoF research to China during the US moratorium?

  • 3
    Worth disclaiming that the virus is thought to be natural and not the result of GOF experiments, so this question likely has no direct relevance to the origin of the virus.
    – Colin
    May 6, 2020 at 4:33
  • I was tempted to make another q from the "weaponize" claim, but there's already q like that here skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/47564/… (weaponization in mentioned in the quote on that other q)
    – Fizz
    May 6, 2020 at 6:18
  • 1
    Science Mag reported in late 2014 that "NIH confirmed today that all five projects working on a mouse model for MERS have been exempted from the pause." I haven't documented the Wuhan connection specifically but it does not seem implausible that the statement in bold refers to one of these five.
    – Brian Z
    May 6, 2020 at 13:08
  • 2
    @BrianZ: yeah, but the statement in that case is somewhat misleading as there was no outsourcing to circumvent the moratorium, but rather the moratorium itself was suspended for some already ongoing research...
    – Fizz
    May 6, 2020 at 13:33
  • 1
    This Politifact check doesn't specifically cover the claims in the ToI article, but it talks about presumably the same funding as that article talks about, and would seem to blow a big hole in these arguments. May 20, 2020 at 19:52


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