Chair Rodgers: NSABB Recommendations Further Underscore Reforms Needed to P3CO Framework
WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) issued the following statement after the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity’s (NSABB) issued a report titled: “Proposed Biosecurity Oversight Framework For The Future of Science.”
“Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s GAO report, the NSABB’s draft report further underscores the need for changes to the P3CO to ‘engender public trust in the review and oversight processes.’ I am encouraged that now even the Biden administration recognizes this fact. However, these recommendations are just the start, and our committee’s oversight will push for greater transparency into how the United States makes funding decisions regarding potentially risky pathogenic research.”
The NSABB report echoes concerns raised by Chair Rodgers, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) in letters sent in October 2021 and April 2022 regarding the lack of rigorous oversight in the P3CO framework.
“On August 30, 2021, the Washington Post published an article, A Science in the Shadows, detailing how the HHS oversight process over risky research, often referred to as Gain-of-Function (GOF) research, was weakened in recent years from the policy established in 2012. 10 For example, in December 2017, the review process known as the HHS Framework for Guiding Funding Decisions about Proposed Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens Care and Oversight (P3CO) was revised to remove any authority by the HHS P3CO review group to block GOF research proposals. Instead, HHS redefined GOF research, which has given NIH leaders the sole discretion to approve GOF projects without referring them to the HHS PC3O review group.
“In a significant policy change, the 2017 policy also narrowed the criteria for review of GOF research to cover only altered pathogens ‘likely capable of wide and uncontrollable spread in human populations.’”
“Our oversight of the HHS P3CO framework, including what has been revealed about the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) inadequate management of the EcoHealth Alliance grants funding virus-hunting in bat caves in China, and risky research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), has already identified troubling concerns about the HHS P3CO review process.”