National Security spokesman John Kirby on Monday affirmed President Biden’s support of gain-of-function research, saying it was necessary to prevent future pandemics.
RealClearPolitics reporter Philip Wegmann asked Kirby whether the president believed the reward outweighs the risk when it comes to gain-of-function research, which involves extracting viruses from animals to artificially engineer in a laboratory to make them more transmissible and deadly to humans.
'Does the president believe that this type of gain-of-function research is prudent?' Wegmann asked.
Kirby said the president believed the research was important to help prevent future pandemics.
'There has to be legitimate scientific research into the sources or the potential sources of pandemics so that we understand it, so that we can prevent them from happening,' Kirby said. 'But he also believes … that the research has to be done in a safe and secure manner and as transparently as possible to the rest of the world, so the people know what’s going on.'
Kirby’s comments after he said the Biden administration has not reached a consensus on the origins of COVID-19 despite an assessment from the U.S. Energy Department (DOE) that the virus likely originated from an accidental lab leak in Wuhan, China.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has admitted to funding gain-of-function research on bats infected with coronaviruses at a lab in Wuhan – despite repeated denials from Dr. Anthony Fauci that U.S. tax dollars were used in the funding.
Earlier this month, House Republicans launched an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 by requesting documents and testimony for current and former Biden administration officials.
The Republican chairmen of the House Oversight Committee and the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic are seeking information, including from Fauci, concerning the idea that the coronavirus leaked accidentally from a Chinese lab.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.