We came across this image being forwarded on a Singapore-based Telegram group:
In the image, we see a photo of two individuals, one of the whom we recognise to be Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President.
The text on the image states that the lady in the photo is Christine Grady, the head of “NIH Bio Ethic”, which allegedly is “the company that approves Drugs for the FDA”. The text also states that Dr. Fauci is her husband.
At the end of the image, we see a rather cryptic rhetorical question posed – “Are you starting to get it?”.
Dr. Fauci has long been a ‘favourite’ among the anti-vaccination crowd, with him even stating that he has been “villainised” due to his vaccination advocacy. With this context in mind, the rhetorical question is therefore an insinuation that COVID-19 vaccines and drugs have been approved by the FDA because of Dr. Fauci’s wife, Dr. Christine Grady.
While it is indeed true that the individuals in the photo are Dr. Fauci and Dr. Grady, and it is true that they are husband and wife, the insinuations made aren’t so.
What does the NIH do?
Several iterations of this claim have been floating on social media platforms from as early as May last year.
One of which is an Instagram post stating that “Fauci’s wife is NIH chief of bioethics and human subjects research [and] that means she’s the one who rubber stamps exceptions to normal drug and vaccine testing”.
Fact-checkers have come out to debunk this, with NIH telling PolitiFact that while Dr. Grady is the chief of bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, she isn’t involved in issuing emergency use authorisations.
Said the NIH: “As part of her official duties, Dr. Grady and her staff teach medical ethics and perform research into complex ethical issues related to medicine and clinical research.”
While staff members in the bioethics department are available for bioethics consultation on NIH research programs, she “does not have authority to approve the conduct of any research protocol […] and she has no input into the FDA process for issuing EUAs”.
In addition, a factcheck on USA Today clarified that it is the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research that is responsible for approving vaccines, and not Dr. Grady. In an earlier report, the center’s director Dr. Peter Marks, said FDA staff worked “night and day” to review the 340,000-page license application for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which was completed in 97 days. A statement from the agency also clarified that “FDA-approved vaccines undergo the agency’s standard process for reviewing the quality, safety and effectiveness of medical products”.
Therefore, both the claim that NIH Department of Bioethics is the party responsible for the FDA approving drugs and vaccines, and the insinuation that COVID-19 vaccines and drugs have been approved because of Dr. Fauci’s wife are false.