The omnibus bill would pay for dangerous research involving “pathogens of pandemic potential” in any “country of concern.”

The more than 4,000-page omnibus spending bill passed by the Senate on Thursday included a provision that some scientists and lawmakers say would have placed new barriers against dangerous virus research that played a role in the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. may have eaten.

As part of the $1.7 trillion legislation that would add to the $31 trillion national debt, lawmakers would freeze some National Institutes of Health grants for research experiments involving “pathogens of pandemic potential” conducted in foreign countries of “concern.” paid.

The language comes after several GOP senators called on the Biden administration to halt all federally funded functional research into what they say may be responsible for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. added.

“Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall not fund research conducted by a foreign entity at a facility located in a country of concern related to pandemic potential or biological pathogens. agents or toxins ,” reads page 3354 of the omnibus bill.


Members of the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.
(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. One of the Senate Republicans responsible for greater oversight of enhancement research called the measure a good “first step.”

“I’m pleased that these new barriers will help prevent the funding of dangerous research in foreign countries that threatens American taxpayer dollars, this is just the first step, and we need to do more,” Marshall told Fox News.


“We must close policy loopholes by restricting all federal agency funding for hazardous research, including sub-awards, to any country that raises concerns and/or violates the Bioweapons Convention treaty.

“No US tax dollars should fund dangerous research in China. Period,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 5, 2022, in Washington, DC.

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 5, 2022, in Washington, DC.
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Gain-of-function research is a controversial area of ​​experimentation that involves engineering viruses and pathogens to be more transmissible or even more lethal to study how diseases develop and develop potential treatments or vaccines.

In 2014, the Obama administration suspended new funding for research on enhancement of function to “assess the potential risks and benefits.” However, it was reinstated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2017, and Marshall and other Republicans have argued that new barriers are needed for the research, which the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, has been generating since then. Functional research experiments before the spread of COVID-19.


NIH function enhancement research is funded in a Chinese lab, according to government documents obtained by The Intercept. The story contradicted claims by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the outgoing head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and Dr. Francis Collins, who headed the NIH at the start of the pandemic.

Medical experts say that this NIH-funded boost-of-function study in Wuhan, where the virus first appeared, may not have directly caused the spread of COVID-19, but with the lack of proper laboratory controls and dangerous research may have engaged.

In this May 3, 2020 file photo, the EcoHealth Alliance logo is shown on a smartphone.

In this May 3, 2020 file photo, the EcoHealth Alliance logo is shown on a smartphone.
(Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket)

The NIH acknowledged last year that EcoHealth Alliance, the organization that funded the Wuhan research, failed to immediately report an “unexpected finding” that its research in 2018 and 2019 had created a more infectious coronavirus in mice. The agency suspended grants to Wuhan in August after a two-year investigation. Fauci’s previous government-funded research in Wuhan included NIAID funding to study the bat coronavirus.

The White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog group that supports animal testing and taxpayer-funded research to boost function at the Wuhan lab, has challenged lawmakers to “overcharge dangerous viruses in animal labs of foreign adversaries.” praised for.

“The majority of Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents — support these common-sense measures to combat wasteful government spending that hurts animals and taxpayers, and we applaud lawmakers for taking action,” said the Advocacy and Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Justin Goodman. policy, in the White Coat Waste Project.

The origin of COVID-19 is still unknown. Research by Republicans in both the House and Senate found that a lab leak was the most likely source. The World Health Organization, supported by many prominent scientific organizations, states that the most likely origin is a natural jump from animals to humans.

Fox News’ Patrick Hauf contributed to this report.

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