On October 7, over 30 House and Senate Republicans sent letters to Lawrence A. Tabak, the director of the National Institutes of Health, as well as to Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the National Science Foundation. Both letters called for the suspension of federal funding to EcoHealth Alliance.
The lawmakers stressed the urgency of ending the American agencies’ “grant relationship with EcoHealth to protect taxpayer funding and end dangerous experiments that jeopardize public health.”
On September 21, one month after the NIH notified EcoHealth that its sub-award was terminated for “material non-compliance with terms and conditions of the award,” the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, run by Anthony Fauci, awarded a grant to EcoHealth valued at $653,392 for 2022.
Eight days later, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a bill to prohibit federal funding to the organization.
Ernst told the Daily Caller that “[g]iving taxpayer money to EcoHealth to study pandemic prevention is like paying a suspected arsonist to conduct fire safety inspections.”
In the meantime, Republican lawmakers have sought to preclude federal agencies from giving additional funds to EcoHealth, delineating their reasons in two strongly-worded letters, the first of which was to the NIH.
The letter to the NIH
Republicans highlighted EcoHealth’s “lengthy history of reporting failures and collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV),” noting that the WIV “is a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) laboratory and the likely origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Although the lawmakers indicated that EcoHealth’s transmission of American tax dollars to the WIV for projects involved in gain-of-function research was itself problematic, they found its obstructionism and aversion to transparency even more troubling.
The letter referenced how, in 2020, Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth, called NIH requests that U.S. federal officials inspect the WIV “heinous,” and derided suggestions that the virus might have leaked from the WIV — to which his organization had directed a significant amount of taxpayer funds — as “conspiracy theories.”
The authors of the letter did not hold back in their characterization of EcoHealth as undeserving of funding, suggesting the organization was dishonest, failure-prone, collaborative with the CCP, and exhibitive of a “reckless disregard for federal laws and U.S. taxpayers.”
They recommended that the NIH turn off the spigot and end funding to the organization.
The letter to the NSF
Republican lawmakers called into question the NSF’s recent decision to award a $1 million grant for a project that would include EcoHealth. Although EcoHealth is not the primary recipient, it is allegedly set to receive $90,000. The letter indicated that in addition to this sum, the NSF was planning also to give $263,801 to the controversial organization.
Unlike the letter to the NIH, which does not mention Peter Daszak by name except in a footnote, the letter to the NSF calls out Daszak for leading “an unsubstantiated, coordinated effort to deflect blame from the WIV and EcoHealth.”
Republican lawmakers referenced an NIH letter condemning EcoHealth, suggesting its “inability or unwillingness to provide … documentation to us upon request raises questions about the quality and rigor of EcoHealth’s record-keeping.”
The lawmakers added another excerpt from the NIH’s letter, which stated, “EcoHealth has demonstrated a history of failure to comply with several elements of the terms and conditions of grant awards.”
Much of Daszak’s defensiveness and EcoHealth’s spotty record is centered around its relationship with communist China’s sometimes-bioweapons lab.
The U.S. State Department previously stated that, prior to the first identified case of the COVID-19 outbreak, “several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019 … with symptoms consistent” with the virus, raising doubts about the “the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was ‘zero infection’ among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses.”
Suspicions were heightened after the CCP prevented independent journalists, investigators, and global authorities from interviewing researchers at the WIV, including those who first took ill in the fall of 2019.
Although there are myriad of reasons to suspect that the WIV was ground zero for COVID-19, the House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority Staff Report on the origins of the COVID-19 global pandemic emphasized several, including:
- “The CCP’s refusal to allow the WIV to share samples of the virus”;
- “The history of gain-of-function research on coronaviruses at the facility”;
- “Shi’s self-described anxiety that her lab may have been the source of the outbreak”;
- “The CCP’s refusal to allow international investigators access to the WIV”;
- “Concerns from the French government regarding the secretive relationship between the lab and the PRC’s military”; and
- “The general lack of transparency and CCP cover-up of the origins of the COVID-19 global pandemic.”