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Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Anthony Fauci Should Be Held Accountable for 'Unethical' Experiments

© REUTERS / POOLSenate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on federal government coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response in Washington
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on federal government coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.10.2021
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The statement comes as US non-profit organisation the White Coast Waste Project accused Fauci of spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on "cruel" experiments on dogs in Tunisia. According to the organisation, dozens of puppies had their vocal chords removed and were infected with disease-causing parasites in order to test drugs on them.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has harshly attacked the US' leading expert on infectious disease Dr Anthony Fauci, saying he and other employees of the National Institutes of Health should be fired for funding "despicable" experiments on dogs.

"I cannot believe American tax dollars would go to treat those dogs the way those dogs are treated, and you know, I really think Fauci needs to be held accountable. These people, these bureaucrats, they don’t get to just run wild and do whatever the hell they want to with our tax dollars", DeSantis said during a press-conference.

The Republican governor’s statement echoes that of around two dozen lawmakers, who wrote a letter to Dr Fauci last week asking the medical expert to comment on allegations that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had spent thousands of dollars on experiments that involved 44 beagle puppies being fed to parasite-carrying insects. Their vocal chords were allegedly removed so that scientists could work without listening to the barking.

Nancy Mace, US representative for South Carolina’s first congressional district, called the purported tests "cruel".

“This is a reprehensible misuse of taxpayer funds”, Ms Mace wrote in a letter co-signed by 23 lawmakers.

Accusations of Lying to Congress

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also attacked Dr Anthony Fauci over funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Recently, it became known that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had partnered with the Chinese institute to study diseases, including coronaviruses in bats.

Testifying before Congress, the top medical expert denied that US-funded research involved gain-of-function – a process during which scientists artificially engineer viruses, making them more transmissible. This is done to assess what risks viruses may pose to humans in the future.
However, last week the National Institutes of Health revealed that a "limited experiment" was conducted in order to see if "spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model".

The revelation led some Republican lawmakers to accuse Fauci of lying to Congress, with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul calling for Fauci to be criminally investigated.

Governor DeSantis said that the United States has to end gain-of-function research, which he described "very hazardous" and "unethical". "You can’t have mad scientists running around playing God like this", he said. The Republican believes that Fauci and other employees of the National Institutes of Health who approved the research should be fired.

"I think that [the] whole lot of them needs to be cleaned out. We need to be standing up for the American taxpayer and doing things ethically and not doing things like gain-of-function research – and certainly not abusing puppies", DeSantis said.

Why Does it Matter and How Has Fauci Responded?

The world is in the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, but the origins of the disease, which according to Johns Hopkins University has left almost five million people dead, remain a mystery. A report by the World Health Organisation said the disease originated in bats then jumped to an intermediary animal before infecting humans.

Another hypothesis suggests that the outbreak of COVID-19 could have started due to a lab leak. This idea was at first dismissed as a conspiracy theory, but during the spring there was a change in attitude towards the lab leak scenario after US media reported, citing undisclosed documents written by the US Intelligence Community, that three employees of the Wuhan Institute of Virology had sought medical care for a disease with symptoms similar to COVID-19 three weeks before the Chinese authorities reported the first case of the infection.

Dr Fauci has categorically dismissed accusations of lying to Congress and said that it was "molecularly impossible" for the novel coronavirus to have originated from the US-funded research. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said the expert and his colleagues have been "entirely truthful".

"Gain of function is a broad term. Drs. Collins and Fauci have made clear in numerous public appearances that the research in question did not fit this definition, and nothing in the last research progress report changes that fact", read the NIAID’s statement.

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