The US Senate has passed an amendment by Republican Senator Rand Paul to permanently ban the National Institutes of Health and any other federal agency from funding gain-of-function research in China.
“We don’t know whether the pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan or evolved naturally,” Senator Paul said in a statement.
“While many still deny funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan … the passage of my amendment ensures that this never happens in the future.”
The amendment defined gain-of-function research as “any research project that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity or transmissibility in mammals”.
The Senate chamber cheered after the amendment was passed.
The National Institutes of Health released a statement a week ago on gain-of-function research.
“Neither NIH nor NIAID have ever approved any grant that would have supported ‘gain-of-function’ research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans,” it said.