Did Fauci Fund Abusive Animal Experiments?

Policy

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Reuters)

Anthony Fauci is in the thick of it again. This time, he is accused of funding animal experiments with beagles that sure seem to be abusive. From The Hill’s “Changing America” story:

House members, most of whom are Republicans, want Fauci to explain himself in response to allegations brought on by the White Coat Waste Project that involve drugging puppies.

According to the White Coat Waste Project, the Food and Drug Administration does not require drugs to be tested on dogs, so the group is asking why the need for such testing.

White Coat Waste claims that 44 beagle puppies were used in a Tunisia, North Africa, laboratory, and some of the dogs had their vocal cords removed, allegedly so scientists could work without incessant barking.

Leading the effort is Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), writing a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) saying the cordectomies are “cruel” and a “reprehensible misuse of taxpayer funds.”

“Our investigators show that Fauci’s NIH division shipped part of a $375,800 grant to a lab in Tunisia to drug beagles and lock their heads in mesh cages filled with hungry sand flies so that the insects could eat them alive,” White Coat Waste told Changing America. “They also locked beagles alone in cages in the desert overnight for nine consecutive nights to use them as bait to attract infectious sand flies.”

A few points:

  • This is highly political, so we have to be sure the experiment is being accurately described.
  • Sometimes beagles and primates are used in medical experimentation because, legally, large animals must be used in tests before humans.
  • That doesn’t mean every experiment with animals is necessary or proper. The harm that seeks to be alleviated is part of the equation, but so is the suffering caused to the animals. For example, a recent experiment in which male rats had uteruses transplanted so they could give birth — while surgically connected to female rats — was classic animal cruelty.
  • There had to be other ways to test the drug’s ability to combat infection than by letting dogs be bitten repeatedly by insects.
  • Note, it was not carried out in the USA but in Tunisia. This could be an example of what my friend William Hurlbut calls “outsourcing ethics” — that is, paying for experiments overseas that would be considered morally wrong here. It is notable that the rat experiment referenced above was conducted in China.

It’s too early to make a final judgment about this. But questions should be asked and answers required if the U.S. funded these tests. Also, whether any U.S. drug companies or universities were involved is a critical question.

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