US Suspends EcoHealth Funding For Wuhan Lab Deadly Virus Research

According to a letter from Henrietta Brisbon, a deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the US has suspended EcoHealth funding for deadly virus research at the Wuhan lab.

US Suspends EcoHealth Funding For Wuhan Lab Deadly Virus Research 1

Read the original article here.

U.S. authorities have severed ties with a charity organization that sent public funds to a Chinese laboratory situated in the same city as the initial COVID-19 incidents.

The organization EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) “did not adequately monitor” the Wuhan lab’s adherence to the requirements of a U.S. grant. National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to a letter from Henrietta Brisbon, a deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, dated May 15 to EcoHealth President Peter Daszak. The parent organization of NIH is the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, the subaward to Wuhan was deemed to be devoid of conditions that would have brought the grant into line with federal law and regulations by officials.

“Given the issues regarding the management of EHA’s grant awards and subawards, I have determined that the immediate suspension of EHA is necessary to protect the public interest,” Ms. Brisbon wrote.

Over the years, the Wuhan lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), has received more than $1 million from American company EcoHealth to investigate bat coronaviruses.

A more pathogenic bat virus was produced in mice as a result of the trials in 2019, according to an annual report that EcoHealth did not provide to the U.S. government until 2021.

Then, laboratory notebooks and other testing-related information were requested by US officials. Although they had sent the request to the Wuhan lab, EcoHealth representatives stated they did not own the information. Officials from the United States and EcoHealth claim that Wuhan never gave them the papers.

“EcoHealth facilitated gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China, without proper oversight, willingly violated multiple requirements of its multimillion-dollar National Institutes of Health grant, and made false statements to the NIH,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “These actions are wholly abhorrent, indefensible, and must be addressed with swift action. EcoHealth’s immediate funding suspension and future debarment is not only a victory for the U.S. taxpayer but also for American national security and the safety of citizens worldwide.”

In a report released on May 1, Dr. Wenstrup, the chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, suggested that federal prosecutors look into allegations of grant terms violations made by Mr. Daszak.

For example, Dr. Wenstrup pointed out that EcoHealth attributed the annual report’s lateness to being “locked out” of the NIH system, but a government forensic audit found no proof to back up that assertion.

The ranking member of the subcommittee, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), expressed his approval of the funding suspension for EcoHealth in a statement.

“Every recipient of federal taxpayer funding must meet the utmost standards of transparency and accountability to the American public,” he said. “EcoHealth Alliance’s failure to do so is a departure from the longstanding legacy of good-faith partnerships between NIH and federal grantees to advance science and the public interest, which remains essential for the continued work of preventing and preparing for future threats to our nation’s public health.”

“In all of our federally funded projects, we have maintained an open, transparent communication with agency staff… [and] rapidly provided information critical to public health and agriculture,” Mr. Daszak, who holds a doctorate in parasitic infectious diseases, told the subcommittee during a recent hearing.

The NIH is now funding EcoHealth with three grants, one of which will be used to test the hypothesis that bats harboring antibodies to the Nipah virus could become re-infected in laboratory settings.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is recommending that EcoHealth be debarred, or unable to receive funds, for a duration that could span years or even decades and is halting all financing to the NGO.

“The length of debarment, if ultimately imposed, will be based on the seriousness of the cause for debarment,” Ms. Brisbon said (pdf below).

EcoHealth has thirty days to challenge the HHS’s conclusions.

“EcoHealth Alliance is disappointed by HHS’ decision today and we will be contesting the proposed debarment,” a spokesperson for the organization told The Epoch Times in an email. “We disagree strongly with the decision and will present evidence to refute each of these allegations and to show that NIH’s continued support of EcoHealth Alliance is in the public interest.”

According to prior statements made by the HHS inspector general, NIH and EcoHealth representatives neglected to adequately oversee research conducted with funding.

The watchdog claimed that the NIH, for instance, failed to ensure that the yearly report was filed on time.

The watchdog also stated that EcoHealth neglected to submit the report by the deadline of September 2019, instead choosing to wait until August 2021.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology was previously prohibited by the HHS from obtaining government funding because it did not provide the required documentation.

The debarment was announced in September 2023 and was to last for ten years.

“The NIH determined that WIV may have conducted an experiment yielding a level of viral activity which was greater than permitted under the terms of the grant,” Ms. Brisbon said in a letter to the lab’s director at the time.

According to her, the determination is uncontested because the lab refused to turn over notebooks and other materials.

“As such,” Ms. Brisbon wrote, “there is a risk that WIV not only previously violated, but is currently violating, and will continue to violate, protocols of the NIH on biosafety.”

As reported by GreatGameIndia last year, the families of four people who died from COVID-19 took EcoHealth Alliance to court.

Read the letter to Ecohealth below:

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