Why Isn’t Gain-of-Function Research Treated Like Terrorism or Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Imagine for a moment that terrorists were believed to have killed 1.13 million Americans, as the SARS-CoV-2 virus is, per the CDC. (Note: I understand and agree that the CDC’s figures are not to be trusted, but am referencing them here for the sake of analyzing the political response to the pandemic.)

For comparison purposes, the 9/11 death toll was around 3,000. In response, the U.S. government used the tragedy as a pretext to invade Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Later, they went back to the well and used it again to justify invading Iraq, which we now know had nothing to do with the attack. In fact, the Gulf War was in service of Project for a New American Century-style neocons’ geopolitical ambitions.

To this day, over twenty years later, the government still uses the specter of 9/11 to justify various invasions of personal liberty by the TSA, intelligence agencies, and other arms of government. The sprawling surveillance infrastructure that it erected, justified by the need to fight Islamic terror, is now pointed inward at the American people.

All of this is to point out that, if it were a foreign power that was deemed responsible for the death of 1.13 million Americans, as was the case with 9/11, the United States would go to war.

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Taking the 1.13 million figure at face value, the COVID-19 death toll in the United States alone is 376 times the 9/11 death toll.

Yet, despite the mounting evidence that COVID-19 was spawned as the product of illicit gain-of-function research in a dingy Chinese lab, business as usual continues with China unabated. The suspected ringleader of the operation, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who funneled public money to the project through Eco-Health Alliance, remains not only unindicted but celebrated and protected by one of the two dominant political parties.

Related: Are House Republicans Preparing Criminal Case Against Fauci?

Biden’s handlers, on the rare occasion that a corporate media reporter bothers to ask, play coy over the administration’s allegedly serious investigation into COVID-19’s origins.

(The reporter there who pressed Fauci on COVID origins, Simon Ateba, has since been stripped of his press pass.)

Contrast that non-response from Karine Jean-Pierre regarding COVID-19 with the immediate formation of a 9/11 commission tasked with exhaustively investigating the events of that day.

For a variety of reasons, government actors do not feel the same political pressure to provide answers to the COVID-19 origins question as they did to the 9/11 attacks, despite the dramatic difference in the scale of these crimes.

Switching comparisons, why isn’t gain-of-function research — the literal practice of making viruses more lethal and more infectious — treated as the existential threat that, for example, nuclear weapons are?

Political scientists devote their entire careers to studying nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear arms control. Nukes are rightly considered a top-priority international political issue because they pose such a serious threat to human survival. No fewer than 191 counties have signed the UN Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Yet, unlike SARS-CoV-2, no nuclear weapon has ever killed an American. Only two have been deployed in history, and that was nearly 80 years ago.

Why, then, has no such treaty been signed — or even proposed — regarding gain-of-function research?

Criminally, the Biden administration still publicly supports gain-of-function research even while it feigns interest in discovering whether the biggest pandemic in a hundred years was actually caused by such research.

Continuing the analogy, no critic of American nuclear policy who expresses concern over nuclear conflict has historically been tarred and feathered as a “conspiracy theorist” and banned from social media. On the other hand, for the better part of two years, this was the case with the COVID-19 lab leak theory.

One is left to wonder: why the disparate treatment of these issues? Here are a few possibilities:

  • An earnest investigation into COVID-19’s origins could produce evidence of culpability by actors at the highest levels of government
  • Virology research is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with gain-of-function research as one of its mainstays. Beyond the money involved in the research itself, the fruits of this type of research are used to develop pricey pharmaceutical drugs that fetch even greater windfall profits for the biomedical state. Were the true costs of gain-of-function revealed, political pressure would mount to dismantle this very lucrative industry — an outcome big pharma is ready and willing to lobby against tooth and nail.
  • If COVID-19’s lab origins were proven, the credibility of the corporate media, which labeled such claims “conspiracy theories” for more than two years, would be forever destroyed.

But it is for these very reasons that we — meaning the independent media and its grassroots supporters — should demand an honest, transparent, competent investigation into COVID-19’s origins. We should be unrelenting in our demands for an official investigation even while conducting our own parallel investigations to corroborate or disprove any conclusions by the government. This inquiry should continue until the origin is definitively proven, or at least enough circumstantial evidence is compiled to come to a conclusion that exceeds any reasonable doubts.

If and when COVID-19 is shown to have emerged from a Chinese U.S.-funded biolab, all ongoing gain-of-function research projects should be canceled immediately.

The parties responsible for approving and conducting such research should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity in proceedings that rival the Nuremberg Trials in scale.

Gain-of-function research, from then forward, should be codified in the criminal code as a transgression of the most severe nature, punishable by the harshest penalties available.

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