The Epoch Times sent a freedom of information request to the NIH for communications and other documents explaining why it decided to suddenly remove the definition of “gain-of-function research” from its website. The agency said no such documents exist.
The censorship of the website took place between October 19 and October 21. Before then, the NIH website used to have a 232-word definition of “gain-of-function research.” The definition was removed shortly after the agency admitted that it funded research in China that many alleged met the classification that was originally described on the website.
In October, documents obtained by lawmakers revealed that the NIH, through EcoHealth Alliance, funded research in China that involved the enhancement of a bat coronavirus.
According to experts quoted by Epoch, that research fits the definition of gain-of-function.
In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Sciences published a document that covered how to handle proposed research that involved “enhanced potential pandemic pathogens.” The document further defined it as “pathogens both highly transmissible and likely to cause significant sickness or death in humans.”
In October, a spokesperson for the NIH told Epoch that the removed page has “described the general definition of gain-of-function research that fell outside the scope of the HHS P3C) Framework.”
The spokesperson added that the “information was being misused/used incorrectly (and still is) and creating confusion (and still is),” so, they had to change it.
Speaking to Epoch, the ranking Republican member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Rep. Morgan Griffith said that changing the definition “has only muddied the waters.”
“Part of understanding what happened in the Wuhan lab is understanding precisely what gain of function means, and NIH has not been helpful in this regard,” he said.
Users on social media have been censored for making comments related to the NIH’s funding of such research.