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A group of lawmakers, including prominent members of both parties, has signed onto a letter calling on Dr Anthony Fauci and his agency to answer questions on funding for experiments involving canine testing.
The letter, first obtained by the right-wing Daily Caller, was spearheaded by Rep Nancy Mace of South Carolina and joined by some of her fellow Republicans as well as Democrats including Ted Lieu of California and Eleanor Holmes Norton, representative for the District of Columbia.
It calls for Dr Fauci and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to detail the federal government’s involvement in experiments that use dogs to test new drugs before they reach the market, despite, as the lawmakers note, “the Food and Drug Administration [clearly stating] that it does not require dog testing for new drugs”.
The letter comes on the heels of an investigation led by conservative group White Coat Waste, which highlights instances of cruelty towards animals as it advocates for a complete ban on federally funded research that involves animal testing.
The group’s messaging has focused its ire on Dr Fauci personally as conservatives have sought to demonise the US health expert relied on by both the Trump and Biden administrations for public health policy.
White Coat Waste’s investigation, citing documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests as well as others that were publicly available, found that the US government funded a series of tests on beagle puppies over the course of several years. During the experiments, the puppies were allegedly sedated and in some cases had their vocal cords removed before the researchers supposedly put their heads in cages and subjected them to bites from parasite-carrying sand flies.
The Independent has reached out to NIAID for more information about the experiments, including questions regarding whether such testing is occurring today.
A White Coat Waste spokesperson told The Independent in an emailed statement that the group’s investigations included documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, as well as some publicly available reports detailing the experiments. The letter from the members of Congress refer to one in which young dogs were given experimental vaccines before being killed and dissected.
Animal research remains an extremely controversial topic. Proponents of the practice maintain that scientific breakthroughs on diseases including HIV are only possible thanks to such research, while animal rights groups have long argued that the practices are immoral and should be banned.
Dr Fauci’s prominence on the national stage has skyrocketed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic since the beginning of last year. As a result, the NIAID director has seen himself celebrated in some liberal circles while facing relentless criticism and attacks from the right over all sorts of issues ranging from the efficacy of vaccines to the importance of social distancing and mask-wearing.