It has been a long time coming. The first of around 4,000 beagles saved in Virginia from Engivo, a breeding facility that has been hit with several animal welfare violations, will start being transferred to local shelters.
This comes after a series of bills signed by Virginia Governor Youngkin earlier in the year to ensure animal welfare in the State. That effort was itself a result of the awareness and concern created by a larger investigation by White Coat Waste that exposed agencies of the Federal government as funders of experiments using beagles for medical testing in very unethical and unnecessary ways.
While this is in a sense a feel-good story for everyone, some people may be resistant to the lessons learned. It would be great if our government and health authorities were always honest and acted benevolently but this is not always the case. There is always the possibility of waste, corruption, and unethical conduct. Defenders of larger government and advocates for more taxpayer spending for scientific research reflexively discount any story claiming such malfeasance may have occurred because it threatens their interests and even their worldview. But sometimes such things must be challenged, and as we will see, one way powerful authorities get away with doing unethical things with public funds is to outsource them and rely on a sort of “plausible deniability” claim as millions of dollars of funding gets distributed to many different recipients all doing their own things to some extent. Coupled with a “It’s for the greater good” attitude, unethical actors can vehemently rationalize away their unethical actions. Sometimes claims of unethical behavior are wrong or taken out of context. But when the facts show otherwise and even the “fact checkers” fail to connect the simple dots, it may point to a concerted effort to conceal what is the actual objective with the funds and how it is being reached.
When the White Coat Waste story broke, and “BeagleGate” began, NIH and NIAID immediatley tried to backtrack on the funding of the infamous beagle studies at the center of it all. They pulled a technicality to make it look like they were not involved in the most horrendous of the studies and this is the position they have maintained ever since, despite having to admit to funding other studies directly being done using beagles. Of course, “fact-checkers” have mostly backed up their position in the media but unless you were born yesterday, you ought to be suspicious of their involvement. Their attempt to pull the technicality might make them look more shady, actually.
The bottom line is they and their partners want a vaccine for leishmaniasis and the beagle study in question is a part of their pursuit. Who cares about ethics and standards when you have an end in sight, right? What they claim is that the journal the study was published in erroneously indicated the study was funded by NIH/NIAID. I think a more accurate description would be “accidentally revealed their involvement to the world.”
The authors of the beagle study in question indicated NIH funding and included the grant numbers. Those grant numbers are real and can be searched on the NIH website. They lead to two vaccine studies funded by the NIH and NIAID related to leishmaniasis being conducted by some of the EXACT SAME PEOPLE that conducted the horrendous beagle study in question! But I guess if you do the more ethically questionable part of your research in Tunisia and report it separately it makes the rest ok and the public funding is totally not helpful to it in any way.
Check out the below screenshots from the journal and the NIH website regarding the studies, the grant numbers, and the recipients. Any way they try to slice the fiscal pie, the same people are eating it and to the same end. Is that end worth the price? That is what we all must ask ourselves.