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GOP Sen. Marshall seeks moratorium on federal funding for gain-of-function research

The Wuhan Institute of Virology was known to have been studying coronaviruses prior to the pandemic and has long been eyed as a potential ground zero for the pandemic.

Published: January 25, 2023 4:48pm

Updated: January 25, 2023 6:08pm

Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall on Wednesday reintroduced the Viral Gain-of-Function Research Moratorium Act, to ban the federal government from funding such research.

"For the past few years, a select group of individuals at NIH [National Institutes of Health] and other federal agencies have undermined congressional oversight instead of being transparent or accountable to the American people," Marshall said in an emailed press release. "This has hampered our ability to get to the bottom of the COVID-19 outbreak and gain a full understanding of how much taxpayers are subsidizing these dangerous activities."

"This new GAO report further bolsters the need to address NIH's failure in executing its oversight responsibilities of federally-funded research. Until the oversight process is reformed and adequate guidelines are in place to protect all of us from dangerous outbreaks, we must not allow any this research to continue," he went on.

Marshall, an obstetrician and former captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, cited a recent report from the Government Accountability Office highlighting a need for more stringent oversight of research involving potentially viral diseases.

Gain-of-function research is a field in which scientists experiment with biological agents to enhance their properties, i.e., make viruses more deadly. The field has come under considerable scrutiny in recent years amid theories that the COVID-19 virus may have been the result of a lab leak.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was known to have been studying coronaviruses prior to the pandemic and has long been eyed as a potential ground zero for the pandemic.

While legacy media outlets and government officials have maligned the lab leak theory as a conspiracy theory, a Senate report released in October 2022 detailed "substantial evidence" that COVID-19 did originate at the WIV.

Democrats last year blocked Marshall's original attempt to pass the bill. He first introduced it in October of 2021. Congress has already banned any funding directly to the WIV and other research labs operated by American adversaries.

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