House Republicans on Friday launched an investigation into a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to EcoHealth Alliance, which the lawmakers say directed taxpayer funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China to study how coronaviruses could be transmitted to humans, according to a new report.
“House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky., and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, wrote that there has been ‘mounting evidence the COVID-19 pandemic started in the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Communist Party covered it up,’” Fox News reported.
“In a letter, exclusively obtained by Fox News, written to Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the NIH, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Comer and Jordan raised concerns that EcoHealth Alliance knew of the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to cover-up the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and failed to act or to inform the U.S. government,” Fox wrote.
“If U.S. taxpayer money was used to develop COVID-19, conduct gain of function research, or assist in any sort of cover-up, EcoHealth Alliance must be held accountable,” Comer and Jordan wrote. “It is incumbent upon grant recipients to ensure their work is performed within the scope of the grant, advances our national interest, and protects our national security.”
As confirmed by FactCheck.org, EcoHealth Alliance ultimately distributed nearly $600,000 of NIH grant money over six years to the lab, in part to study “the risk of the future emergence of coronaviruses from bats”:
In 2014, the NIH awarded a grant to the U.S.-based EcoHealth Alliance to study the risk of the future emergence of coronaviruses from bats. In 2019, the project was renewed for another five years, but it was canceled in April 2020 — three months after the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in the U.S. EcoHealth ultimately received $3.7 million over six years from the NIH and distributed nearly $600,000 of that total to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, a collaborator on the project, pre-approved by NIH.
In a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) that he can’t “guarantee” that American tax payer money didn’t go to gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab.
“There’s no way of guaranteeing that, but in our experience with grantees, including Chinese grantees, which we have had interactions with for a very long period of time, they are very competent, trustworthy scientists,” Fauci said.
The two also had this exchange:
Kennedy: “Here’s where I’m getting at: You gave them money, and you said, ‘Don’t do gain-of-function research.’”
Kennedy: “And they said, ‘We won’t.’”
Kennedy: “And you have no way of knowing whether they did or not, except you trust them. Is that right?”
Fauci: “Well, we generally always trust the grantee to do what they say, and you look at the results—”
Kennedy: “Have you ever had a grantee lie to you?”
Fauci: “I cannot guarantee that a grantee has not lied to us because you never know.”
Kennedy: “Can we agree that if you took President Xi Jinping and turned him upside down and shook him, the World Health Organization would fall out of his pocket?”
Fauci: “I don’t think I can answer that question, sir. I’m sorry.”
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