First congressional hearing on gain-of-function research 3 August 2022
“Revisiting Gain-of-Function Research: What the Pandemic Taught Us and Where Do We Go From Here,”
Video starts in about 15:00.
- Generally very good. 3 US senators that actually seem to understand the issues.
- PC3O committee only reviewed 3 proposals, NIH did not refer to them.
- Today viruses are made from scratch, no need for Crispr.
- GoF research is Fast, Easy, Fundable, Publishable, so attractive to academia.
- WIV also working on extremely dangerous Nipa virus, 60 lethality, 21 day incubation, not airborne.
- Virus DB taken offline
- SARS-2 also has ORF-8 addition to avoid immune system?
- Need for proper, independent oversight.
GoF dangerous, provides recipe for terrorists. No civil applications or benefits. Needs independent oversight. 2014-2017 US ban on GoF, “the pause”. Eco Health not paused. PC3O weak, only 3 projects reviewed. Secretive. Needs independent review, and not just funding.
No dispositive evidence for Zootonic. Accidental release. SARS-2 consistent with being engineered, RBD and Furin. Darpa ORF8 immune system evasion. Research into Nipa! Zoo papers are weak. All cases adjacent Line 2, near WIV. GoF < 1% all NIH research. Virology will not allow ban. GoF not in cities. Hunting viruses dubious! Gates funded. Nipa experiment far more dangerous.
Origin unclear, but knowing not helpful. Need to recognize technology danger. Can make DNA from scratch, cost a few thousand dollars. Security nightmare. Vague definition of GoF. Huge biosecurity risk, terrorists. Screen DNA requests. Make people pay for disasters. Need to delay just a decade while we develop general counter measures. NIH Predict program looks for dangerous viruses.
Index of video
I (accidentally) indexed the following slightly truncated version, missing the prepared testimony.
Sen Paul Chair.
0:00 Sen Scott
1:50 Kevin Esvelt PC3O only known dangerous viruses. Not transparent. Committee membership is secret.
2:00 Steven Quay
2:20 Ebright. Only 3 PC30 reviews in 4 years. Most GoF has not had PC3O review, up to NIH to order a PC3O.
3:30 Esvelt “Gain of Function” a terrible ill defined term. Does not focus on danger.
5:00 PC3O does not mandate compliance. Up to the funding agency.
6:06 GoF started reconstruction of extinct pathogens 2003 ish. Much easier and accessible, from genome to Virus cost about $10,000.
8:24 Esvelt Today make viruses from scratch, no need for CRISPR. Synthetic DNA can be ordered for $1000, some 30,000 Ph.D.s know how to do that.
9:40 Quay Making lethal Avian Flu virus air borne and contagious to humans raised concerns. 2012.
10:40 Ebright several US Lab Leaks and violations. Caused pause from white house.
11:30 Quay Gain of Function and Gain of Opportunity dangerous viruses
12:00 Esvelt GoF vaguely arguable, but the possibility of deliberate misuse “blows it out of the water”.
12:30 Ebright GoF for existing pathogenic viruses is arguable, vs. viruses that are not currently dangerous. Want better oversight and dramatically limit rather than ban. And huge reduction
14:00 Senator Marshal: Timeline. ? 2011 GoF banned due to fear of terrorists. 14:01 Fauci said accidental release a danger, paused GoF, then off shored to China 2012, 2014 grants to Daszak. 16:30 2019 NIH lift on moratorium no consultation.
17:30 EB Yes, Lab Leak possible. US funded WIV GoF 2016 to 2019. Banned in USA 2017.
19:44 Quay: should pause. Esvelt: GoF too vague a term. Must be banned.
20:40 Senator Hawley. Did China cover up.
21:30 Quay. Virus db taken off line etc. WIV also working on extremely dangerous Nipa virus, 60 lethality, 21 day incubation, not airborne. All BSL-2.
23:40 Ebright: GoF is Fast, Easy, Fundable, Publishable, so attractive to accademia. China sees US doing GoF wants to follow. 25:00 Immense bioweapon application.
25:40 Hawley: Fauci & Colin lied blatantly, NIH not funded GoF.
26:30 Ebright: NIH untruthful, demonstrably false.
27:11 Hawley: Daszak’s Lancet letter.
28:03 Ebright letter suppressed. Also 2nd effort via Fauci: Proximal Origins.
29:30 Paul: Lost friends. Complete lack of investigation. PC30 committee not effective. 2018 WIV did SARS GoF. Important to get to the truth. Look back before forward, not to assign blame. Was this GoF.
33:02 Ebright: yes, back in 2016? Effective on humanized mice. Not submitted to PC3O committee.
34:00 Quay: Prior 2019 65% of publications on coronaviruses from WIV. 20 visits a year looking for viruses. Led to Pandemic.
35:00 Esvelt: Point of the experiments was to see if it would become more dangerous. They published results, did not consider risks.
37:00 Esvelt: Big threat to national security.
37:40 Paul: RaTG13 only 96% close to SARS-2. Could that be the source via Serial Passage?
38:38 Ebright: Closest known 97%, cannot rapidly migrate naturally. But in lab can be produced using “consensus” genome, published a decade ago.
40:20 Quay: 40 years difference in nature. But couple of days in lab. But probably some other virus in the database taken off line.
41:10 Esvelt: Cannot migrate from 97% through serial passage.
42:40 Paul: 2018 DARPA grant application to add Furin cleavage site.
44:00 Quay: 3 reasons in genome. Receptor Binding Domain — For SARS-1 we can see changes from civits to humans. In first jump to humans only had 50% mutations needed to support an epidemic, vs SARS-2 fully adopted, only 17 changes to make it more. Very fast. Also Furin site novel, since common ancestor 1000Ad. Orcane? proteins suppresses immune response, worked on in WIV.
46:50 Paul: No smoldering phase for SARS-2. 0 of 36,000 had preexisting.
48:05 Quay: Dec 2019 5 specimans sequenced, but WIV published and this contains background stuff. This included Nipa virus cloning vectors — they were playing with it.
53:00 Sen ?: This research is corrupt. No benefit, just fundable.
52:00 Ebright: Research not corrupt, but needs external oversight.
55:10 Sen Marshal: Eco health, not compliant.
56:10 Ebright: Eco health did not notify effective GoF.
57:40 Quay: Bloom found sequences of early patients that had been removed from gene bank. Early viruses only 3 mutations from original virus. Bloom found missing links, Sep/Oct 2019.
59:00 Quay: Database taken off line. Copy probably in USA. taken down 2am. Probably contains closest precursor. Probably in Eco Health.
1:01:00 Esvelt: This is not in China’s interest either. We publish so encourage.
1:02:00 Paul: This is just the beginning. SARS-1 escaped from labs 3 times. Need better oversight. Not self-regulations. Consult, but not just Virologists. Need transparency. Completely insane.