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Biden Asks for Millions to Go Toward ‘Pandemic Preparedness,’ ‘Global Health Security,’ as COVID Origin Questions Remain
President Joe Biden has asked for millions in taxpayer dollars to go toward “pandemic preparedness” and “global health security,” even as the origins of COVID have come under scrutiny from lawmakers in recent days.
“This includes over $1.2 billion to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks — including by expanding U.S. bilateral partnerships with countries to improve health security capacity,” Biden’s proposed budget reads.
Included in this $1.2 billion is $500 million for “the Pandemic Fund” with the purpose of increasing preparation for a pandemic on a global scale. The Pandemic Fund is an international fund run by the World Bank, with funding from across the globe. The U.S. provides more money for the fund, which was launched in November 2022, than any other country.
The proposed money for future pandemics comes as some have claimed that the U.S. funded the gain-of-function research that created COVID and leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. On Wednesday, former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that American tax dollars funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where he believes that the virus leaked from.
Trump’s CDC Director Says Fauci Shut Down Debate on COVID’s Origin
Trump administration CDC Director Robert Redfield told a congressional committee Wednesday that his former colleague, Anthony Fauci, and former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins froze him out of discussions on COVID-19’s origins.
The accusation came during a politically charged hearing Wednesday of the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and stoked Republican claims that Fauci in early 2020 promoted the view that an infected animal spread the virus to humans to divert attention from research the U.S. sponsored at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Redfield said Fauci, who led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the time, and Collins left him out because Redfield suspected the coronavirus had leaked from the Chinese lab. Redfield thought the highly infectious nature of the virus distinguished it from other coronaviruses and made it unlikely to have evolved naturally, he told representatives.
Revamped COVID Panel Argues for Research Limits, Even Bans
Pathogen-altering research is back under fire here, as Republican lawmakers argue it should be banned until policymakers and scientists work out whether these types of studies have helped advance infectious disease research — or played a role in the global COVID-19 pandemic.
A revamped House committee on the coronavirus heard from Trump Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield in a Wednesday hearing, where the embattled virologist argued for a “moratorium” on this approach, known as gain-of-function research, and said it had no value in understanding and readying populations for infectious disease outbreaks.
“On the contrary, I think it’s caused the greatest pandemic we’ve ever seen,” Redfield told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, which under new Republican leadership has shifted focus from the Trump administration’s pandemic response to the virus’ beginnings.
Redfield said his lab-leak theories about the virus led to other officials sidelining him from the federal response and that he “was restricted from being able to talk to the American public.”
Fauci Rejects Claims He Froze-Out Lab-Leak Proponents, Engaged in NIH Funding ‘Bribe’
Former National Institutes of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci responded to comments from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and ex-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield from a Wednesday hearing on coronavirus origins, saying claims of a “bribe” of scientists and a “freeze-out” of Redfield are “preposterous.”
Redfield testified he did not know he was excluded from a Feb. 1, 2020, conference call with other healthcare bureaucrats until a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) application revealed such sometime later. “I was quite upset as the CDC director that I was excluded, excluded from those discussions. Why would they do this? Because I had a different point of view and I was told they made a decision that they would keep this confidential until they came up with a single narrative,” Redfield said.
On “Your World,” Fauci rejected Redfield’s characterization while underlining he respects his fellow physician. Fauci also rejected claims Redfield’s support for the lab-leak theory precluded him from participation, saying other experts on the call have made similar assertions.
He responded to Jordan’s comments Wednesday that days after some scientists made the lab-leak hypothesis, they changed their minds. “And then three months later, ‘shazam,’ they get $9 million from Dr. Fauci. Well, isn’t that something?” Jordan asked in part at the time.
Multiple COVID Variants Found in New York Rats: Study
Three different coronavirus variants were discovered in New York City’s rat population, according to a new study. A release from EurekAlert on Thursday states that rats were found to be infected with the Alpha, Delta and Omicron COVID-19 variants.
Henry Wan, the principal investigator for the study and the director of the Center for Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Missouri, said in the statement that the finds demonstrate why additional monitoring of COVID-19 in rat populations is necessary to keep track of a possible secondary spreading of the virus from animals to humans.
The release states New York City has about 8 million rats, which are also widespread across other urban areas in the United States. It notes that two previous studies indicated that rats had been exposed to the virus, but which variants they interacted with had been unknown.
Coalition of People Injured by COVID Vaccines Speak at Mississippi Capitol
Accompanied by physicians and scientists, the vaccine injured shared their stories on Feb. 27–28 at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson as a part of a campaign held by the MS Against Mandates (MAM) to bring attention to adverse events and those who have been harmed from the vaccines.
Dr. Peter McCullough, a practicing internist and cardiologist who is also the national adviser for MAM, spoke at the event and discussed the CDC’s VaccineAdverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data, which he said reflects an “embarrassing gross underestimate of what is happening in America.”
‘Pan-Variant’ COVID Vaccine Could Defang Future Strains Thanks to Machine Learning
A new approach to vaccines with a machine learning twist could put an end to boosters and seasonal variant shots, according to MIT researchers. This “pan-variant” vaccine would ignore the virus itself but quickly control infections by cracking down on infected cells.
To be quite clear, this is still in animal testing and is nowhere near being deployed. But with COVID becoming a resident virus in the human population, longer-lasting solutions than occasional boosters for particularly bad strains are in demand.
The problem is that, as amazing as the mRNA vaccines are, they are reactive, not proactive: you see a variant, you sample its spike protein or some other distinctive feature, and you slip it into the immune system so it knows to be on the lookout. It’s a bit like letting a rescue dog sniff the belongings of a lost hiker.
Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory wanted to find another, more enduring way to keep the body safe from COVID attacks. A paper describing their findings was published today in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
Diabetes Drug Proves Beneficial in Preventing Long COVID in Clinical Trials
The trial enrolled about a thousand participants who were symptomatic with a COVID-19 infection for less than a week. Participants were randomly selected to receive a placebo or one of three drugs: metformin, ivermectin or fluvoxamine.
About 6% of people who took metformin later developed long COVID-19, as determined by a medical diagnosis. In the placebo group, 10.6% of participants developed long COVID-19. This meant that overall people who took metformin were 42% less likely to develop long COVID-19 compared to people who got the placebo.
Metformin may help prevent long COVID-19 by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress or by suppressing the production of the virus, according to laboratory studies. The participants who received the two other drugs, ivermectin and fluvoxamine, did not see any benefits in terms of preventing long COVID-19.
First Nasal Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for COVID Shows Promise for Treating Virus, Other Diseases
A pilot trial by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, tested the nasal administration of the drug Foralumab, an anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody.
Investigators found evidence that the drug dampened the inflammatory T-cell response and decreased lung inflammation in patients with COVID-19. Further analysis showed the same gene expression modulation in patients with multiple sclerosis, who experienced decreased brain inflammation, suggesting that Foralumab could be used to treat other diseases. Their results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In both COVID-19 and multiple sclerosis, the immune system is overactive. Foralumab, manufactured by Tiziana Life Sciences, is a drug that stimulates regulatory T cells of the immune system, or anti-inflammatory cells, resulting in decreased inflammation. This contrasts with other monoclonal antibodies previously given to treat or prevent symptoms of COVID-19 (such as Evusheld) that target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which only had activity against specific variants and subvariants.
Long COVID Patients Face Medical Debt After Insurance Denies Claims
Because her heart problems didn’t go away, in early 2022 her doctors began conducting a series of lab tests in an attempt to better understand her long COVID symptoms.
When Maness submitted the testing to her insurance — Anthem Blue Cross — the provider deemed the testing medically unnecessary and declined to cover the cost. She’s now on the hook for the medical bills, which have already cost her more than $10,000 out of pocket.
Maness is among several long COVID patients in the United States interviewed by NBC News who say their insurance providers are declining to provide coverage related to their illness.