E&C Republicans Press NIH to Investigate Peter Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance for Research Cover-Up and Possible Fraud
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) Acting Director Lawrence Tabak demanding the NIH investigate Peter Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance for a cover-up and possible fraud related to research at the Wuhan lab.
EcoHealth Alliance president Peter Daszak and EcoHealth are suspected of violating policies related to both scientific research, and grant applications and reports. The members are requesting the NIH investigate Daszak and EcoHealth on whether data related to crucial research was purposefully withheld during the grant renewal process.
KEY EXCERPT: “Our review of EcoHealth Alliance’s reports about its humanized mice experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) using funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows pervasive discrepancies, inconsistencies, and omissions in its progress reports and renewal application that raise serious questions about scientific and ethical misconduct, violations of NIH policies and regulations, and possible false statements and fraud. Accordingly, we request the NIH investigate Dr. Peter Daszak, the Principal Investigator of R01AIll0964, and other EcoHealth officials to determine whether certain data related to mice deaths and other material information were intentionally withheld during the peer review process for EcoHealth’s grant renewal application.”
ECOHEALTH’S FINANCIAL STRESS
SUMMARY: EcoHealth faced a “brewing financial crisis” in 2017 and 2018 as the majority of its funding, which came from the PREDICT II grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). EcoHealth didn’t know if the grant would be renewed. At a March 29, 2018, EcoHealth staff meeting, Daszak expressed his concerns about the amateur nature of another failed submission to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Daszak said it was “a major failure on all accounts” and he demanded a “change in culture” as “part of [a] mentaility [sic] to get money.” Shortly after, EcoHealth submitted its Year 4 progress report on April 13, 2018, and its grant renewal application in November 2018 concealing key details from an experiment in order “to get money.”
MICE DEATH COVER-UP
EcoHealth’s grant renewal application concealed mice deaths by reproducing two figures from their Year 4 report but deleted the word “dead” from the term “dead point,” therefore not implying mice deaths. The renewal application’s use of the word “dead” was defaced and deleted. EcoHealth used “dead” again in its Year 5 report.
There is no apparent reason why EcoHealth was able to include the word “dead” in the Year 4 and Year 5 report graphs, but not in the graph in the renewal application. Deleting the word “dead” and concealing that fact from peer reviewers raises scientific and ethical concerns.
WHY THE MICE DEATHS MATTER
LETTER EXCERPT: “EcoHealth found itself with unpleasant choices. It could admit that it was doing gain-of-function research, or risk losing money it desperately needed from NIAID. Given the financial pressures it was facing and the culture of ‘getting money’ urged by Dr. Daszak, the presentation of the humanized mice data in the renewal application appears intentional.
“If the mice deaths had been disclosed, it is reasonable to expect that the peer reviewers would have noted these results and the discrepancies in the data when the data of both Year 4 and Year 5 reports are combined. Had the peer reviewers seen the mice death data from the survival rate graph held back for the Year 5 report, they would have known mice were dying at high rates from the chimeric viruses in a risky experiment. There was a significant probability that reviewers would have wanted to stop such risky research and not continue EcoHealth’s funding.”
Among those receiving copies of the letter are Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm and National Academy of Medicine Home Secretary Elena Fuentes-Afflick. In November 2021, the members sent this letter to NAM requesting that NAM investigate Daszak for possibly violating the NAM member Code of Conduct and outlined numerous misconduct concerns about Daszak that warrant an investigation to protect the integrity of the scientific community. After receiving our letter, NAM notified us they had opened an internal review of Daszak’s behavior, per our request. We believe this letter about EcoHealth’s potential false statements and fraud is relevant to the ongoing investigation the NAM is conducting into Peter Daszak.
CLICK HERE to read the letter to Acting Director Tabak.
CLICK HERE to read more about the investigation into the origins of COVID-19.