USDA funding “dangerous bird flu experiments” with Chinese scientists that some fear could spark a whole new pandemic

We all know what can go wrong when labs experiment with dangerous pathogens, so why is the U.S. government carrying out bird flu experiments in conjunction with the U.K. and China? That’s the question lawmakers are asking, particularly because taxpayers are footing the $1 million bill.

Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) sent a letter to USDA secretary Tom Vilsack last week demanding information about its spending on the “dangerous bird flu experiments,” which she says involve a “highly pathogenic avian influenza virus.” In a disturbing coincidence, one of the researchers who is part of the project via the Chinese Academy of Sciences is Wenjun Liu, who Ernst says is affiliated with a pathogens lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology where the COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have originated.

The project was made possible by a $1 million grant from the Biden administration for lab virology experiments exploring the strains of the avian influenza virus that are believed to pose the biggest risk to human and avian populations. It runs through March 2026.

One of the viruses they will be working with is H7N9, a strain that first infected animals and humans in China in 2013 and causes most patients to become seriously ill. Another is the “highly pathogenic” H5NX, which can lead to neurological complications in humans. They will also be working with the H9N2 strain, which is also capable of infecting humans.

Of particular concern is the Chinese component of the experiment. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, which is controlled by the CCP, will be tasked with conducting tests that involve infecting vaccinated Mallard ducks, Japanese quail, Chinese geese and chickens to assess how transmissible the virus is and its potential to be transmitted to “mammalian hosts.”

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Ernst asked Vilsack to provide information about any safeguards that have been put in place and whether these experiments involve dangerous gain of function research. This is the type of controversial research that was carried out at the Wuhan lab and involves conducting experiments that make pathogens stronger and more transmissible so that researchers can gain a better understanding of their potential to create pandemics.

She told the New York Post that switching from bats, the animals that were used in the experiments that led to the pandemic, to birds only means that there will be even more pathogens circulating that have the potential to cause pandemics. Therefore, she believes that the USDA should have been more cautious about signing on for this type of research.

She stated: “The health and safety of Americans are too important to just wing it, and Biden’s USDA should have had more apprehension before sending any taxpayer dollars to collaborate with the CCP on risky avian flu research.”

“Here’s my warning: The Biden administration should be walking on eggshells until they cut off every cent going to our adversaries. We cannot allow what happened in Wuhan to happen again,” she added.

In her letter to Vilsack, she cited the notoriously loose safety standards in Chinese labs as another cause for concern.

Some of the bird flu testing involved in the project will be conducted in Athens, Georgia, at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Statistical modeling will take place at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslyn Institute.

Risky gain-of-function research projects violate federal policies

A recent federal government report on the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Institutes of Health revealed that more than $2 million of taxpayer funds had been sent to Chinese research institutions in Wuhan via sub-grants, including more than $1.4 million that went to EcoHealth alliance to fund the lab’s “genetic experiments to combine naturally occurring bat coronaviruses with SARS and MERS viruses, resulting in hybridized (also known as chimeric) coronavirus strains.”

These experiments were a violation of federal policies pertaining to gain of function research.

Unfortunately, as long as similar experiments continue to receive funding, there is a very real possibility that another lab leak could spur a new pandemic.

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