Why Was EcoHealth Alliance's Grant Reinstated Despite Group's Apparent Failure To Comply With NIH Conditions?

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, May 13, 2023 - 03:00 AM

Authored by Hans Mahncke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reinstated a grant that had been terminated by President Donald Trump in April 2020. However, a document first obtained by the House Oversight Committee reveals that the NIH’s conditions for reinstatement have not been met.

Peter Daszak, right, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, is seen in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The grant, titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” was originally awarded in 2014 by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Under the terms of the grant, EcoHealth Alliance, a government-funded nonprofit that purportedly engages in research to prevent pandemics, was awarded $3.8 million over five years to assess the spillover potential of bat viruses “using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments in cell culture and humanized mice.” Put in simple terms, NIAID was paying EcoHealth to genetically engineer and manipulate bat viruses in labs.

In May 2016, the grant was suspended after Erik Stemmy, a NIAID program officer, noticed that federal government funds may have been used for prohibited gain-of-function experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China. At the time, the Obama administration had put in place a moratorium on gain-of-function experiments. However, for reasons that remain unclear, the suspension was lifted in July 2016. At the time, EcoHealth’s president, Peter Daszak, thanked NIAID in an email for lifting the gain-of-function funding pause.

As part of the conditions of the grant, EcoHealth had to file regular activity reports. However, starting in 2018, EcoHealth stopped submitting these reports. EcoHealth would later blame technical difficulties for their failure to submit. The missing reports comprised the critical 2018–2019 timeframe right before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan.

Despite EcoHealth’s delinquency in filing the status reports, NIAID did not stop funding the project. It was only after a Freedom of Information Act request for the reports was filed in 2021 that EcoHealth was prompted by NIAID to provide the reports. The reports, which were finally submitted by EcoHealth at least two years too late, in 2021, revealed that the NIAID grant had been used by EcoHealth and the WIV in part to create laboratory-engineered bat viruses. Had this fact been reported in a timely manner, the experiments would likely have been shut down by NIAID.

When the connections between the WIV and NIAID’s grant became known in April 2020, Trump terminated the grant. Trump’s decision caused an outcry among the media and his critics. However, the NIH, which is NIAID’s parent body, appears to have been well aware that Trump’s actions were merited.

On July 8, 2020, Michael Lauer, the NIH’s deputy director for extramural research who was in charge of “ensuring scientific integrity, public accountability, and effective stewardship of the NIH extramural research portfolio,” wrote a letter to EcoHealth, listing seven demands that needed to be fulfilled as a condition for reinstatement of the grant.

NIH Issued 7 Demands

First, EcoHealth needed to provide a sample of the COVID-19 virus which it used to determine the virus’ genetic sequence. The ostensible purpose of this demand was to compare this original sample with other samples in order to assess when it first emerged.

Second, EcoHealth was required to “explain the apparent disappearance of Huang Yanling, a scientist / technician who worked in the WIV lab but whose lab web presence has been deleted.” Huang Yanling has long been thought to be patient zero. Her profile was scrubbed from the WIV’s website shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019 and she has not been seen since.

NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Joe Biden (out of frame) speak during a visit to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., on Feb. 11, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Third, EcoHealth was asked to share the “WIV’s responses to the 2018 U.S. Department of State cables regarding safety concerns.” These cables had warned of a “serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate” the WIV’s high-level containment laboratories. They also warned that the National Health and Family Planning Commission, a state agency of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), had denied a request to conduct coronavirus experiments at biosafety level 4. The actual experiments were carried out in low biosafety level 2 facilities.

Fourth, EcoHealth was required to “disclose and explain out-of-ordinary restrictions on laboratory facilities, as suggested, for example, by diminished cell-phone traffic in October 2019, and the evidence that there may have been roadblocks surrounding the facility from October 14-19, 2019.”

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