Gain-of-function research in Australia: Why the secrecy?

In estimates I asked a number of agencies whether or not anyone is reviewing the 17 gain of function research projects being funded by the Federal government. The AFP, ASIO or the TGA would take no responsibility for these projects despite the significant threat to the safety of the population.

The National Health and Medical ­Research Council, who approves and decides on the funding of this research didn’t want to know about it either.

When asked about the gain of function used in the vaccine, (codon optimisation to improve antigen expression on page 19 of TGA FOI 2389-6) the TGA Head, John Skerritt claimed he couldn’t answer the question because the document wasn’t in front of him. Why he would need the document is beyond me. He would have very well known what I was talking about as the original FOI redacted this vital information about gain of function being used.

It beggars belief in light of the fact that it is now widely accepted that the Covid virus was the result of a lab leak (funded by Fauci) that our authorities don’t want to address the risks of gain of function research.

To quote the Australian:

“Health Minister Mark Butler has invoked a claim of public interest immunity to block the release of researchers’ names and institutions associated with 17 commonwealth-funded gain-of-function research projects that increase the virulence of viruses in a laboratory.

The NHMRC review was ordered by former health minister Greg Hunt after The Australian in June last year revealed that the CSIRO and several Australian universities engaged in at least 10 joint projects with the Wuhan Institute of Virology over a decade.

The review identified 13 projects had used live animals including mice and ferrets, three projects used human tissues and others involved the use of bat tissue and avian cells. In one project, components of research conducted in Canada and the US used genetically modified organisms and live infectious agents.”

Further reading:

– Page 19 – V8 and V9 have identical amino acid sequences of the encoded antigens and differ only in their codon optimisation sequences, which were designed to improve antigen expression.

Virus lab workers protected ‘for their safety’ – The Australian

Chamber: Committee on 13/02/2023
Item: Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee – 13/02/2023 – Estimates – HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO – Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)

Senator RENNICK: I just want to follow-up on a previous FOI that was rejected with regard to 17 Commonwealth funded Gain-of-Function research projects that increased the virulence of viruses in a laboratory. I’ve asked you this previously. Who is responsible for the oversight of those research projects, given that they’re designed to increase the virulence of a virus and we’ve just spent the last three years going through COVID?

Mr Burgess : I don’t know that one. I could take it on notice to find out who would be responsible. It’s not ASIO’s issue to manage or regulate.

Senator RENNICK: I’d appreciate that because the risk, obviously, of these viruses escaping from these 17 different universities, I would have thought, could be quite—

Mr Burgess : Again, unless there was an individual who was doing that for a whole range of threats to security, whether or not a virus leaks from medical research is not a matter for ASIO to investigate or be concerned about.

Senator RENNICK: I guess that’s the point. It is a threat to security if something goes wrong.

Mr Burgess : There’s a biosecurity hazard, yes, but it’s not something that ASIO would focus on unless there was some extremist element that was looking to do that for some politically motivated cause.

Senator RENNICK: Could you find out on notice who would be responsible for the other side of that?

Mr Burgess : I can pass the question on—

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Rennick.

Chamber: Committee on 16/02/2023
Item: Community Affairs Legislation Committee – 16/02/2023 – Estimates – HEALTH AND AGED CARE PORTFOLIO – National Health and Medical Research Council

Senator RENNICK: Hi, guys. My understanding is that it’s your agency that is responsible for reviewing the gain-of-function research projects and, basically, providing funding. Who reviews those projects to make sure that the quality control is appropriate so that nothing goes wrong?

Prof. Kelso : The work you’re talking about, I think, is the review that we did for the previous minister for health, which was to investigate whether the Australian government had funded or conducted any gain-of-function research over the last 10 years. We released that report last April, having provided it to the minister in March. That was a specific review for a specific purpose, and the report contains the material. Beyond that, research grant proposals come through a normal review process if they’re applying for funding from the NHMRC or the MRFF, and then it’s a question for ethics committees, biosafety committees and sometimes the OGTR to determine whether the project, if it’s funded and happens to be relevant to the issues that you’re raising, has appropriate control and whether it should be done.

Senator RENNICK: Thank you.

Chamber: Committee on 16/02/2023
Item: Community Affairs Legislation Committee – 16/02/2023 – Estimates – HEALTH AND AGED CARE PORTFOLIO – Therapeutic Goods Administration

Senator RENNICK: Well, we’ll take that. I just want to refer to page 19 of the Pfizer nonclinical report. In the first paragraph below the first table it says, ‘V8 and V9 have identical amino acid sequences of the encoded antigens and differ only in their codon optimisation sequences, which were designed to improve antigen expression.’ Why did you originally redact that paragraph in the original freedom of information document given that proved that the vaccine was gain-of-function that increased the toxicity of the vaccine by increasing the spike protein?

Dr Skerritt : I don’t have the relevant document in front of me, so we’ll have to take that on notice.

CHAIR: You can take that on notice.

Senator RENNICK: Okay. I’ve just read it out to you.

Dr Skerritt : But I don’t have the document in front of me.

Senator RENNICK: This vaccine increases the antigen expression, right, of the spike protein. It increases the amount of protein made by the vaccine over the virus. A traditional vaccine is generally attenuated not empowered with a greater expression-making function. So, do you accept the vaccine is a gain-of-function?

Senator Gallagher: Senator Rennick, it’s been taken on notice.

Senator RENNICK: Do you accept the vaccine is a gain-of-function because of the codon optimisation?

Senator Gallagher: We don’t have the document that you’re citing from.

Senator RENNICK: Will you not interrupt me please!

Senator ROBERTS: Senator Rennick has explained it to you.

Senator Gallagher: I’m trying to facilitate—

Senator RENNICK: No, no, no! Don’t interrupt me, Minister!

Senator Gallagher: We don’t have the document.

Senator ROBERTS: You don’t need it.

Senator Gallagher: Yes, we do!

CHAIR: Senators, I was listening carefully. Dr Skerritt has taken the first question on notice. If you are directing this as a new question, he said he’s not able to answer the questions on that document.

Senator RENNICK: Okay, avoiding the question.

Senator Roberts interjecting—

CHAIR: He’s taken it on notice—apologies—not that he can’t answer it. He’ll come back to you.








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