University Defends Vaccine Tests on Dogs After Dr. Fauci and NIH Blasted With Criticism

A university has defended its research that has been criticized by a group opposing taxpayer-funded animal testing.

The White Coat Waste Project said documents it obtained showed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had directed $424,455 to the University of Georgia in September 2020 to infect 28 beagles with disease-causing parasites.

The group's criticism centred on NIAID and its director Dr. Anthony Fauci. The group told Newsweek it didn't know if Fauci had personally ordered the experiment, but said that "it was ordered by his NIH (National Institutes of Health) division."

Documents that White Coat Waste obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), also reviewed by the right-wing news outlet The Daily Caller, found that the animals were to be allowed to develop infections for three months and that then they would be euthanized for blood collection.

The documents said the animals "vocalized in pain" during the experiments. The story, which was also reported by Fox News, was based on redacted documents that outlined a study starting on November 12, 2020 in which the beagles were to be euthanized after 196 days.

In a statement to Newsweek, the White Coat Waste Project said that the experiments were related to treatment for a tropical disease called lymphatic filariasis, and that tests had already been conducted on other animals.

White Coat Waste Project research manager Daniel Lopez said that the documents showed Fauci, "needs to be held accountable for his wasteful and cruel spending." Newsweek has contacted NIAID for comment.

Greg Trevor, associate vice president for marketing and communications at the University of Georgia said the research was for a potential vaccine, developed at another institution, that would protect against a disease affecting 120 million people.

He said in an emailed statement that under federal rules, a vaccine must be tested in two animal species before it can be cleared for human clinical trials. When NIAID decided to fund this research, the agency determined that the research needed to be conducted on a dog model.

"According to researchers at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, beagles are the standard dog model used in this type of research," the statement said.

"Because this disease currently has no cure, unfortunately the animals that are part of this trial must be euthanized. We do not take lightly the decision to use such animals in some of our research."

The university followed the humane standards of the Animal Welfare Act, the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animal and the National Research Council Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and other guidelines, Trevor said.

"Nearly every advancement in medicine, medical devices and surgical procedures has depended on research involving animal subjects," the statement added.

Animal Experiments in the U.S.

The international advocacy group Speaking of Research (SR) has been critical of White Coat Waste Project and its broader claims that animal experimentation takes place in the U.S. without accountability at great expense to taxpayers.

Speaking of Research said that despite what the group says, "animal studies are highly regulated and vast amounts of information are available to the public."

White Coat Waste Project has also joined those criticizing Fauci over questions of "gain of function" experimentation at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the lab in China that some have linked to the COVID pandemic.

The group, along with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, is exploring claims that the NIH funded "gain of function" research in Wuhan, in which a virus is enhanced in a lab to study its impact in the real world.

The NIH and NIAID said they supported funding for research into viruses in bats and mammals, but had never approved grants for gain-of-function research on coronaviruses.

Fauci himself dismissed Paul's claims, telling lawmakers last month that the research Paul referred to "was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain-of-function."

A beagle receives a vaccine
Stock image of a beagle receiving a vaccine at the vet. The University of Georgia has defended its use of dogs in testing a new vaccine. Getty Images