E&C Republican Leaders Reveal NIH Mismanaged Concerns Surrounding EcoHealth Alliance’s Risky Research in China

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, the fifth comprehensive inquiry as a part of the investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

During the U.S. gain-of-function (GOF) pause, undisclosed correspondence between NIH and EcoHealth Alliance now reveal that NIH was concerned it was funding such risky research:

  • In May 2016 – in response to EcoHealth Alliance’s Year Two progress report – NIH raised concerns that EcoHealth Alliance may have been conducting GOF research in the Wuhan lab.

  • In June 2016 – in response to NIH’s concerns – EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak dismissed NIH’s concerns, asserting their experiments on chimeric viruses did not amount to GOF.

  • Despite a clear warning from Dr. Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina, Dr. Zheng-Li Shi of the Wuhan lab, and others in their 2015 study that such research on chimeric viruses pose GOF concerns, NIH uncritically accepted Daszak’s self-assessment.

The Leaders also raise significant concerns about NIH’s oversight of the GOF research and lax treatment of EcoHealth Alliance:

  • Dr. Christian Hassell, the Chair of the HHS P3CO review group, raised concerns that their GOF definition was far too narrow – likely resulting in potential GOF research – such as EcoHealth Alliance’s - avoiding necessary scrutiny.

  • Neither EcoHealth Alliance nor NIAID’s assessments of EcoHealth Alliance’s risky experiments reflected the careful weighing of risks and benefits of the potential GOF research.

  • EcoHealth Alliance violated the terms of their research grant, yet NIH’s lax oversight of the grant resulted in NIH allegedly not knowing of such violation for years.

  • Even after NIH finally took action against EcoHealth Alliance and suspended their grant in 2020 – for which they notified EcoHealth Alliance that no additional funds would be provided to them - NIH improperly awarded EcoHealth Alliance an additional $369,819.

Unbelievably, since their 2020 suspension and refusal to cooperate with NIH oversight, EcoHealth Alliance has received more than $23.4 million in grant funding from the U.S. government.

The Leaders ask for responses to 18 questions be made by November 10, 2021, including:

  • Does NIH plan to stop funding EcoHealth until it is compliant with NIH’s requests? If yes, please identify when you will notify EcoHealth. If not, why not?

  • Does NIH plan to recover the money paid to EcoHealth on its suspended grant? If yes, please identify when you will notify EcoHealth. If not, why not?

  • Please identify who authorized the $369,819 funding issued to EcoHealth on July 13, 2020, and the specific authority for this funding.

  • Please provide all funded and denied grant applications, progress and final reports for all NIH grants awarded to EcoHealth Alliance as a prime or subgrant recipient in unredacted form.

  • When did NIAID first learn that EcoHealth had conducted the humanized mice experiment proposed in 2016?

CLICK HERE to read the full letter to NIH Director Collins.

CLICK HERE to read about the NIH’s October 20, 2021 response to the Energy & Commerce Committee.

CLICK HERE to read more about the COVID-19 origins investigation.