The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – which is headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci – delivered a spanking new grant to EcoHealth Alliance. The grant provides five years of funding for Peter Daszak's controversial nonprofit group to research the "potential for future bat coronavirus." EcoHealth Alliance is the research company at the center of the COVID-19 lab leak controversy.
Rutgers University Professor of Chemical Biology Richard Ebright was one of the first to expose the new funding to the controversial research group.
"It should be noted that EcoHealth Alliance was awarded a new NIH grant ten days ago, providing an additional $3.3 M over five years for a project including high-risk virus discovery research in bats in southeast Asia," Ebright tweeted on Sept. 30.
Journalist Alex Berenson shared a screenshot of the 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website that offers more than $650,000 in annual funding.
"This must be a joke. Please tell me this is a joke," Berenson wrote on Twitter, and shared screen-captured images of the NIH listing.
The NIH government website listing for the grant has a description of the project titled: "Analyzing the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam."
The description specifies that the likely outbreak areas of the south of China, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam "contain regions with "human-wildlife interfaces and likely regular spillover of novel CoVs from bats and other wildlife."
"Our preliminary field studies have identified novel viruses related to known zoonoses in bats and other wildlife from each of these countries and communities with serological evidence of novel CoV exposure," the listing claims.
"The overarching goal of our work is to analyze the behavioral and environmental risk factors for spillover of novel CoVs, identify wildlife-to-human spillover events, assess the risk and drivers of community transmission and spread, and test potential public health interventions to disrupt spillover and spread," the description reads.
The research will attempt to "find serological evidence of spillover."
EcoHealth Alliance claims, "Our results will provide detailed information on the risk of future CoV spillover and spread and will inform potential public health interventions to reduce spillover risk and outbreak potential."
EcoHealth will also "rapidly supply viral sequences and isolates for use in vaccine and therapeutic development, including 'prototype pathogen' vaccines, via an existing MOU with the NIAID-CREID network."
The project leader is Peter Daszak – the president of EcoHealth Alliance.
Daszak's EcoHealth Alliance previously conducted controversial bat coronavirus experiments at China's state-run Wuhan Institute of Virology. Many have accused EcoHealth of conducting gain-of-function experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Others have alleged that the research may have led to a possible lab leak of the COVID-19 virus in 2019.
Fauci has attested that there was no gain-of-function research carried out by EcoHealth Alliance.
Leaked emails show a cozy relationship between Fauci and Daszak. One email features Daszak thanking Fauci for publicly dismissing the COVID-19 lab leak theory.
Fauci's NIAID rewarded EcoHealth Alliance with a $3.7 million grant in 2014 for a project titled: "Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence."
Fauci recently said he would retire in December.
The NIH website also lists another grant from the NIAID to EcoHealth titled: "Understanding Risk of Zoonotic Virus Emergence in EID Hotspots of Southeast Asia."
The project had a start date of June 13, 2020, and an end date of May 31, 2023. The NIAID grant provides $1,504,400 in funding for 2022.
Last week, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced legislation that would ban federal funding to EcoHealth Alliance.
"Giving taxpayer money to EcoHealth to study pandemic prevention is like paying a suspected arsonist to conduct fire safety inspections," Ernst told The Daily Caller. "NIH got it right when it canceled the funding for the experiments EcoHealth Alliance was conducting with China’s state-run Wuhan Institute. In addition to violating multiple federal laws, EcoHealth has still not turned over documents about these dangerous studies that NIH has requested on multiple occasions that could offer vital clues to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic."