Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a huge taxpayer-funded grant to a scientific organization at the center of a scandal surrounding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EcoHealth Alliance, led by Peter Daszak, has won a new grant to conduct dangerous bat coronavirus surveillance research.
The grant was awarded on September 21 to EcoHealth Alliance, despite the organization being stripped of a previous award for failing to provide records essential to an investigation into the origins of Covid.
The new grant, titled “Analyzing the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam,” comes despite an open congressional investigation into the organization.
EcoHealth Alliance already has two other ongoing grants from Fauci’s NIH and a third in negotiation.
In August, the NIH terminated a sub-award to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
The award had been part of an earlier grant to EcoHealth Alliance.
NIH told the House Oversight Committee that the grant was terminated because the organization had refused to turn over laboratory notebooks and other records as required.
“NIH has requested on two occasions that EHA provide NIH the laboratory notebooks and original electronic files from the research conducted at WIV,” the NIH wrote to the committee.
“To date, WIV has not provided these records.
“Today, NIH has informed EHA that since WIV is unable to fulfill its duties for the sub-award under grant R01AI110964, the WIV sub-award is terminated for failure to meet award terms and conditions requiring provision of records to NIH upon request.”
On August 19, the NIH wrote to EcoHealth to let it know that the sub-award had been terminated for “material non-compliance with terms and conditions of award.”
The agency added that EcoHealth could potentially renegotiate the grant without the involvement of the Wuhan lab.
Within weeks of terminating the Wuhan lab funding, the NIH awarded the new grant.
The aim of the new research is to identify areas of potential concern for future pandemic emergence.
However, the process of performing the research introduces the risk of sparking an outbreak that would not otherwise have occurred.
The new grant proposes to collect samples of viruses from wildlife and then “rapidly supply viral sequences and isolates for use in vaccine and therapeutic development,” likely meaning that the researchers could ship live viruses around the world.
Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist with the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University, referred to EcoHealth’s multiple ongoing grants as “disturbing.”
“It is disturbing that additional funding continues to be awarded for the same high-risk research that may have caused the current pandemic before there has been a national investigation of the origin of the current pandemic,” Ebright said.
Ebright said we should pause funding of such research until “there has been a national discussion of whether research should continue to be performed that offers little or no benefit and poses high risk of causing a next pandemic.”
Democrats in Congress have paid little attention to the NIH funding controversy.
Nevertheless, Republicans could soon be in charge of one or both chambers.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top Republican on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, is in line to chair the panel in the event of a takeover.
On Monday, she slammed the NIH for its continued funding of Daszak’s organization.
“EcoHealth Alliance and Peter Daszak should not be getting a dime of taxpayer funds until they are completely transparent. Period,” Rodgers said in a statement.
“This is madness.
“This further intensifies our extensive commitment on the Energy and Commerce Committee to ensure accountability from the National Institutes of Health for its role in supporting taxpayer-funded risky research without proper oversight of its grantees.”