A coalition of leading House Republicans is raising the alarm and demanding answers after the Biden administration approved another round of grant funding for research on coronaviruses and bats in Asia.
The lawmakers sent a letter to Anthony Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and serves as the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.
“We have grave concerns that one of your last acts at NIAID is to send even more taxpayer dollars to an organization whose prior involvement in the very same subject may have contributed to a global pandemic,” the letter to Fauci, who is ending his decades-long role with the federal government in December, said. “We write seeking information about your decision, including whether anyone at NIH has a financial or other non-official interest in EcoHealth continuing to receive taxpayer funds.”
EcoHealth Alliance is the group that received funding to study bats and coronaviruses via the infamous lab in Wuhan, China. The contract with that lab has been severed, in large part due to international scrutiny and questions about its role in the origin of the pandemic.
“Your decision to fund EcoHealth is especially galling because the company continues to stonewall information gathering about the grant-funded work it previously financed at the WIV,” the letter said. “NIH has requested all U.S. taxpayer-funded laboratory notebooks and experiment results from EcoHealth’s research conducted at the WIV. As of today, however, EcoHealth has yet to supply the records sought by NIH.”
House Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Ranking Member Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), and House Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent the letter to Fauci.
The lawmakers called for more transparency, especially regarding the lab’s potential role in the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue still in dispute.
“It is outrageous that the results of U.S. taxpayer-funded experiments are unavailable to the U.S. government, particularly when those experiments could shed light on the origins of a virus that has killed more than one million Americans,” the letter said. “It is unconscionable that you would choose to continue to fund a company that has violated its NIH grant terms in a manner that helps to keep this valuable information from the U.S. government and American taxpayers.
“Based on the totality of circumstances surrounding EcoHealth and the WIV that have transpired over the past two and a half years, your decision to continue funding this entity is downright shocking,” the letter adds.
Fauci announced earlier this year he would resign in December.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have led the NIAID, an extraordinary institution, for so many years and through so many scientific and public health challenges,” Fauci said in the announcement of his resignation. “I am very proud of our many accomplishments.”
By Casey Harper