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'Absolutely reckless': Biden admin renews grant to EcoHealth Alliance —​ the same outfit that funded dangerous experiments at epicenter of pandemic
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'Absolutely reckless': Biden admin renews grant to EcoHealth Alliance —​ the same outfit that funded dangerous experiments at epicenter of pandemic

The National Institutes of Health has renewed a grant to EcoHealth Alliance — the controversial organization that bankrolled dangerous coronavirus experiments at the likely ground zero of the COVID-19 pandemic, China's state-run Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The move comes despite protest from experts, watchdogs, and lawmakers, as well as a damning report from the HHS Office of Inspector General that cast EHA in a particularly unfavorable light.
EHA, still run by British zoologist Peter Daszak, announced Monday that it would once again be meddling with bat coronaviruses on the American taxpayer's dime.
According to the EHA, the objectives of the new NIH- and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease-funded project are to:
  • "characterize and analyze more than 300 new whole genomes and large genome segments of SARSr-CoVs from our archived samples to determine the processes underlying coronavirus recombination and identify viral strains with a high predicted risk of spillover";
  • "analyze archived samples from community- and clinic-based syndromic surveillance of people to identify evidence of spillover, assess behavioral risk factors, and pinpoint evidence of illness"; and
  • "conduct in vitro viral characterization and in silico analysis of epidemiological data to identify hotspots of further CoV spillover risk."

EHA noted that the NIH grant enabling it to resume toying with coronaviruses "reflects a reversal of the previous termination and suspension of an R01 awarded in 2019, but halted in April 2020 due to concerns about continuing collaborative laboratory research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

Former President Donald Trump had the grant suspended after the organization's link to gain-of-function research in Wuhan was exposed.

According to USA Spending, the NIH and other government agencies have been funneling taxpayer money into the EHA since 2008.

TheBlaze previously detailed how EcoHealth has, in turn, used American grant money to fund dangerous gain-of-function research — executed in part by foreign entities — on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The HHS Office of Inspector General released a report earlier this year revealing that the NIH knew about potential risks associated with the research being performed in China that had been executed using federal grant money funneled to and through EHA. Despite this knowledge, it "did not effectively monitor or take timely action to address EcoHealth's compliance with some requirements."

According to the report, EHA did not ensure subawards in China were compliant with federal requirements; ensure compliance with reporting and subrecipient monitoring requirements; and it did not always use its grant funds according to federal requirements.

When, for instance, the the NIH asked EHA on Nov. 5, 2021, to provide scientific documentation pertaining to experiments performed in Wuhan, there was no indication that EHA ever obtained that information. EHA officials reportedly confirmed the WIV had proven unresponsive to its request for data.

Republican lawmakers have expressed contempt for EHA, recognizing it as an unaccountable actor in a play that might have gotten millions of Americans killed.

Over 30 House and Senate Republicans sent letters to Lawrence A. Tabak, the director of the NIH, as well as to Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the National Science Foundation, calling for the suspension of federal funding to EHA.

Republican lawmakers 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."

The letter to the NIH referenced how, in 2020, 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."

During the 117th Congress, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) went beyond mere letters, introducing a bill to prohibit federal funding to the organization. It did not pass.

Ernst said that "[g]iving taxpayer money to EcoHealth to study pandemic prevention is like paying a suspected arsonist to conduct fire safety inspections."

Dr. Richard Ebright, a biologist at Rutgers University, appeared to be of the same mind, having accused EHA of "possibly having caused the pandemic and definitely having repeatedly and gravely violated terms of a US-government grant."

Newsweek reported that White Coat Waste Project, the government watchdog outfit that revealed U.S. taxpayer money was used to bankroll dangerous research at the WIV, blasted the NIH's grant renewal for the EHA.

"The batty taxpayer-funded grant that bankrolled EcoHealth Alliance's dangerous animal experiments in Wuhan that probably prompted the pandemic should be de-funded, not re-funded," said Justin Goodman, senior vice president of the watchdog group.

The Daily Mail reported that Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) denounced the Biden NIH's move to pour more money into EHA.

"It's absolutely reckless that the NIH has renewed a grant for EcoHealth Alliance given their negligence and the breach of their contract with the NIH on the coronavirus research done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology," said Griffith.

Griffith added, "Until they can demonstrate a willingness to work with Congress to resolve outstanding questions and fulfill all of the terms of their federal contracts, paid for with American taxpayer dollars, all funding should remain suspended, and no new contracts should be awarded."

Sen. Ernst told the Daily Mail, "EcoHealth has already betrayed the trust of American taxpayers by funneling funds to China's Wuhan Institute of Virology for risky experiments on bat coronaviruses that may have unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world. Americans deserve accountability, which is why it's past time to defund EcoHealth."

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) echoed Ernst and Griffith, telling the Daily Mail, "EcoHealth Alliance funneled taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan lab to conduct mad scientist research on bat coronaviruses that may have started the pandemic. EcoHealth shouldn't receive another dime from the U.S. government until we fully investigate what happened at the Wuhan lab."

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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