CNN’s Reiner: NIH Funded Research That Caused Virus to ‘Gain Function’ But Fauci’s Testimony Is True Because That Wasn’t the ‘Intent’

On Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead,” CNN Medical Analyst and Professor of Medicine at The George Washington University Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Reiner stated that while the result of NIH-funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology “was to gain function for the virus that they altered,” White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci was truthful in his testimony on the subject. Because gaining function doesn’t appear to be “the intent of the research.” And that scientific questions usually can’t be answered with a yes or no, so Fauci “was being truthful, not artful in his testimony.”

Reiner said, “I think it’s important to understand the intent of the research and the effect of the research. So, the intent of the research was to understand whether certain bat coronavirus spike proteins could infect human cells, and the way they did the experiment was, they took a well-known bat coronavirus called WIV1 and they added to that some other bat coronavirus spike proteins, and they gave that to mice altered to have the receptor, the ACE-2 receptor that humans have that the virus uses to enter human cells. And what they found, was, yes, they could, those spike proteins could enter human cells, but they also noticed that the enhanced virus then was more virulent.”

He continued, “So, they proved that those spike proteins could enter human cells, but in so doing, they made the virus they used more deadly, essentially. The mice were sicker. So, yes, the net effect was to gain function for the virus that they altered, but it does not appear, at least from the documents provided by NIH, that that was the intent of the research. So, the way I look at it, Dr. Fauci and his colleagues were answering truthfully. It has to do with the intent and then the effect.”

Host Jake Tapper then stated, “You have been vocal about your disappointment in health agencies throughout this pandemic when it comes to communication and messaging and trust. Do you think this adds to those problems, even if Fauci and others have been telling the truth? Because there obviously was something there. It wasn’t as bad as others were depicting it, but there [were] gain-of-function experiments going on. Maybe NIH didn’t know about it, but it was going on.”

Reiner responded, “Absolutely. So, look, things are very rarely black and white, yes or no, and understanding the nuance helps the public to understand what the truth is. And we see on Capitol Hill all the time, witnesses are asked, yes or no, did you? But when it comes to science, it’s very rarely a question that can be answered yes or no. And if NIH came out and — or Dr. Fauci or Dr. Collins, months ago, and in response to these attacks from Republican members of the Senate — particularly Rand Paul — explained this difference between the intent of the research and the effect and really described that kind of nuance, I think the public would understand that, and it would not appear that NIH was sort of withholding information. But that becomes the effect of lack of clarity at the outset. So, I think in the end, Tony Fauci was being truthful, not artful in his testimony.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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