E&C Presses Unresponsive NIH for Answers about COVID Origins and Risky Research Projects

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), sent two letters to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) following up on the NIH’s lack of response to requests for information and documents. By failing to respond, the NIH is hindering Congress from exercising its Constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities and not being accountable to the American people.

On May 1, 2023, Chairs Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith sent a letter to the Acting Director of the NIH, Dr. Lawrence Tabak, regarding NIH’s oversight of potential risky research activities such as virus mutation or manipulation in experiments involving SARS, MERS, or SARS CoV-2. It has been over three months, and the Committee has no meaningful evidence that the NIH is responding to this request.

Today’s letter to Dr. Tabak builds on the Committee’s investigation of the adequacy of the NIH’s oversight of research it funds that may pose significant biosafety or biosecurity risks. As written in the letter, “in the event that NIH does not provide documents by that date, the Committee will be forced to consider compulsory process to secure production of the requested documents.”

CLICK HERE to read the full follow-up letter.


  • In January 2022, the Chairs requested a list of all proposed, approved, or ongoing research work that NIH is funding in the area of coronaviruses (especially SARS CoV-2), or viruses related to SARS, MERS, or SARS CoV-2. In its written response, NIH specifically ignored the question: “Does the research involve virus manipulation, passaging of a virus, genetically modified animals, or making any mutations to a virus?”
  • On April 27, 2023, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing titled “Biosafety and Risky Research: Examining if Science is Outpacing Policy and Safety.”
  • In June 2023, Committee leaders sent letters to the CDC, HHS, and NIH seeking information on laboratory biosafety and biosecurity safety practices at those agencies. The Committee calls on the Biden administration to increase transparency both in declassifying information related to the origins of COVID-19 and in the U.S. government’s role in funding risky virus research, including at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

On May 3, 2023, Chairs Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith sent another letter to Dr. Tabak requesting information that would bolster the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the origins of COVID-19, specifically regarding any early SARS-CoV-2 sequences, data from early COVID-19 cases, or other pertinent documents related to the early phase of the pandemic.

However, as written in today's letter, instead of providing documents that “could help support the Committee’s potential legislative efforts to improve pandemic preparedness, strengthen NIH grant oversight, and enhance the biosafety of laboratory and field research,” the NIH has failed to meaningfully engage. In this follow-up letter, the NIH is once again asked to either comply with this request for information or face a compulsory process.  

CLICK HERE to read the full follow-up letter.


  • In March of 2023, Congress passed S. 619, the Covid-19 Origins Act, which requires the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassify all information relating to potential links between the origins of COVID-19 and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 
  • In April of 2023, the New York Times reported that the Chinese Communist Party forced a team of scientists from the United States and China to withdraw an early study on COVID-19.
  • In June of 2023, Chair Rodgers responded to the Director of National Intelligence’s release of limited information regarding COVID-19 origins by demanding complete declassification of COVID-19 origins information.