The National Institutes of Health (NIH) should investigate EcoHealth Alliance and its president, according to House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans, after the group reportedly suppressed data related to its COVID-19 research during the grant renewal process. EcoHealth Alliance, according to its website, is a “global environmental health nonprofit organization devoted to preserving wildlife and public health from disease outbreak.” the Epoch Times reported.
According to a letter Republicans delivered to NIH Acting Director Lawrence Tabak on Monday, the institution has been chastised by Republicans for material it supplied in papers linked to its mouse research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. According to US intelligence sources, the virus that causes COVID-19 may have originated at the Wuhan facility, while other officials claim it has a natural origin.
Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky), and Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia) signed the letter, which sought a probe into an alleged “cover-up and suspected fraud linked to research at the Wuhan lab.” Republicans said the investigations are needed after a committee review of EcoHealth reports found “pervasive discrepancies, inconsistencies, and omissions” that “raise serious questions about scientific and ethical misconduct, NIH policies and regulations, and possible false statements and fraud,” according to the Republicans.
“As a result, we request that the National Institutes of Health investigate Dr. Peter Daszak”… “and other EcoHealth officials to determine whether certain data related to mouse deaths and other material information were intentionally withheld during the peer review process for EcoHealth’s grant renewal application,” they wrote. According to lawmakers, the project in issue was financed from June 2014 to May 2019, and EcoHealth was supposed to provide yearly progress reports to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases throughout that time (NIAID).
“These filings were necessary before money for the next year was approved,” legislators stated. EcoHealth submitted a renewal application to NIAID around November 5, 2018, and the grant — for $3.7 million plus a $369,819 increase over the previous award — was renewed for another five years in May 2019, according to Republicans. They pointed out that this was before EcoHealth filed its Year 5 progress report.
“In the spring of 2016, EcoHealth recommended testing chimeric SARS-like viruses in a humanized mice experiment to determine pathogenicity,” they stated. “The National Institutes of Health authorized this research in July 2016 on the condition that EcoHealth immediately discontinue its tests and notify the NIH if any of the mice groups infected with one of the chimeric viruses showed more than one log of viral development.”
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They went on to say that EcoHealth “unusually” omitted to define how pathogenicity would be assessed in the experiment in its submission to NIH, despite the fact that NIH had requested such information. EcoHealth’s choice of wording in papers relating to the mouse experiment was criticized by lawmakers, who claimed that the 2018 grant renewal application disguised the animals’ deaths “in order to receive money.” “Two data from their Year 4 report were copied, but the word ‘dead’ was removed from the term ‘dead point,’ therefore not suggesting mouse fatalities,” EcoHealth stated.
“The phrase ‘dead’ was vandalized and erased from the renewal application,” they added. “In its Year 5 report, EcoHealth used the word ‘dead’ once again.” Republicans argue that there is no reason why the nonprofit organization would include the word “dead” in the Year 4 and Year 5 report graphs but not in the graph in the renewal application, citing scientific and ethical concerns as well as the fact that peer reviewers were denied access to the research findings, which showed that “mice were dying at high rates from the chimeric viruses in a risky experiment.”
“EcoHealth was faced with difficult decisions. Republicans noted in their letter that “the portrayal of the humanized mice data in the renewal application looks purposeful,” and that “it could disclose that it was undertaking gain-of-function research or risk losing money it sorely needed from NIAID.”
In July 2020, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) withdrew financing for the EcoHealth program. In November 2021, lawmakers wrote to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) urging that it examine Daszak for possibly breaking the NAM member Code of Conduct, as well as a variety of other issues, as well as a probe into EcoHealth.
“After receiving our letter, NAM informed us that, at our request, they had launched an internal review into Daszak’s actions,” they wrote. “We feel this letter regarding EcoHealth’s possible false statements and fraud is pertinent to Peter Daszak’s ongoing inquiry by the NAM.”
According to a letter delivered in January and made public by Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, the NIH found EcoHealth Alliance in violation of eight distinct parts of a contractual agreement it had with the US government over funds it supplied to the Wuhan facility. EcoHealth Alliance has been approached by The Epoch Times for comment.