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1) Email Dump Has Fauci In The Hot Seat
The Topline: Newly released emails and other documents appear to contradict Dr. Anthony Fauci’s claims that the U.S never funded controversial gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the lab at the center of the Covid “lab leak” theory.
In May, Fauci testified to a Senate committee investigating whether the U.S. funded “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab where some believe COVID-19 originated. Fauci strongly rejected this accusation.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, The Intercept found evidence the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a “bat coronavirus grant” to a group called the EcoHealth Alliance for $3.1 million. This included $599,000 which was reportedly used, at least partially, by the Wuhan lab to identify and alter bat coronaviruses to likely infect humans.
Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University who reviewed the material, said Dr. Fauci’s claims that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research were “untruthful.”
The definition of “gain of function” research is somewhat contentious, but typically refers to scientific research that helps enhance the biological capabilities of a product — in this case a virus. During a prior heated exchange between Fauci and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), it was the disagreement over this definition which drew the sharpest distinction between the two.
According to Dr. Ebright, the materials uncovered by the Intercept appear to show that 2014 and 2019 NIH grants to EcoHealth — with subcontracts to the Wuhan lab — funded gain-of-function research, based on the federal government’s definitions at the time.
The Bottom Line: These newly released documents may contradict Fauci’s repeated claims saying the NIH did not effectively fund the type of research which many believe played a significant role in the COVID-19 pandemic.
2) Biden Administration Quiet On Effective Antibody Treatment
The Topline: Monoclonal antibody treatment, which is reportedly safe and free for patients, has been shown to reduce chances of hospitalization and death for those infected with Covid but has gone largely unmentioned by the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
Quote Of The Day:
“It is befuddling to me…to see that the Biden administration is not touting this treatment as an effective means… regardless of vaccination status, I think they have put all of their eggs in one basket.”
– Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez
What Is Monoclonal Antibody Treatment?
The treatment is essentially an infusion of supplemental lab-created antibodies which help someone’s body fight off Covid.
University of Alabama at Birmingham Professor Turner Overton explained the treatment, saying your “immune system takes two to three weeks to make good antibodies,” but “monoclonal antibodies are supplemental antibodies which can be administered early in the course of infection — the first 10 days after symptoms commence — to rapidly bind and kill the COVID virus.”
The treatment has been authorized by the FDA for emergency use since November 2020 and has been widely praised by doctors and others in the medical field, including from the federal government.
Word Isn’t Getting Out
The most prominent company providing the treatment is Regeneron Pharmaceuticals who have teamed up with the federal government to pass along the treatment to Americans for free, but the extent of their patient reach is extremely low.
In late August, the company said it was reaching fewer than 30% of eligible patients — which was up from its numbers in July, when Regeneron reached fewer than 5% of eligible patients.
Why The Low Reach?
The lack of awareness about the treatment has been largely pinned on the Biden administration.
Former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan told The Washington Post in August, “access is still uneven and way below the number of people who could potentially benefit.”
The Biden administration has taken “some very important steps,” McClellan said, but notably admitted that “there is still a big gap, an opportunity to get more people treated and get control of the pandemic.”
The Political Side
Even though the treatment has shown a lot of success, the White House doesn’t appear to be focused on promoting it.
Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) — who’s been promoting both the vaccine and early care like antibody treatment — suggested public health officials haven’t promoted the treatment because they’ve feared if Americans knew about it, they might not get the vaccine.
DeSantis emphasized the importance of vaccination but criticized those who are, in his opinion, neglecting to inform the public about all their options and care.
The “Trump Factor”
Americans likely first heard of antibody treatment from former President Donald Trump when he received it and made a quick turnaround. The media slammed Trump for calling the treatment a “cure,” and since then, they seem timid to discuss the treatment — which could be a factor in Biden’s hesitancy to talk about it, as well.
Where Can Americans Find It?
The treatment is available in all 50 states. While this should be done in concert with your doctor, Americans can check where these treatments have been shipped. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a user-friendly map for the public on their website.
3) Texas Election Integrity Bill Becomes Law
The Topline: This week, following months of debate, Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott signed into law an election integrity bill aimed at combating fraud in the electoral system.
Quote Of The Day:
“The election integrity bill does two things. It’s about accessibility and security. Easy to vote, hard to cheat.”
– Texas State Senator Brian Hughes, author of the bill.
The first version of this election law was proposed in May and had the support of the governor and enough votes to pass in the legislature. Democratic members were able to stall the process by walking out of the House chamber an hour before the voting session ended, though.
They essentially repeated this twice more over the summer and most recently traveled on a private jet to Washington, D.C., to prevent a vote. In August, however, enough members returned, and the measure was finally voted on and easily passed. On Tuesday, Governor Abbott signed the bill into law.
Known as SB1, the law changes the process for mail-in and absentee ballots. People wanting to vote this way will now be required to provide their driver’s license number or other state ID or the last four digits of their social security number.
It will standardize voting hours across the state and restrict counties from sending unsolicited mail-in ballots to residents.
The bill also outlaws 24-hour voting and drive-thru voting, two methods popular in Democratic strongholds in Houston during the 2020 elections.
It will also allow poll-watchers to freely move about the polling location.
Democrats are especially upset about the identification requirements in the law and have called it “Jim Crow 2.0,” saying it will “disproportionately impact” minority communities. Democrat leaders have accused Republicans of using the law as a way of keeping black voters from casting their ballots, a point Republicans in the state have called outlandish.
The law will take effect three months from now, in time for the state’s midterm primaries, but there’s a chance it could be held up in federal court.
There have already been five lawsuits filed against the bill, including one by the ACLU, and it’s possible any one of those could put the law on hold until a verdict is reached. Governor Abbott, however, said he’s confident the bill will withstand any legal challenges.
Other Stories We’re Tracking
Paris Terrorist Attack Trial
A historic trial begins in Paris for the 2015 Islamic State terrorist attacks that killed 130 people. Twenty men accused of taking part in the attacks are being charged, with the trial taking place in a chamber custom-designed for the events. The trial is expected to be the largest in the history of France and is reportedly set to last nine months.
CDC And Teachers Unions
New emails reveal even more coordination between the Biden administration and teachers unions regarding health guidance. The emails – received through a Freedom of Information Act request and given to Fox News – show the CDC appeared to change its guidance on masking after threats of criticism from the National Education Association earlier this year.
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