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HHS halts grants for nonprofit EcoHealth that funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan

The Department of Health and Human Services suspended all federal grants Tuesday to the controversial Manhattan nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which funded gain-of-function virus research in Wuhan, China in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS deputy assistant secretary for acquisitions Katrina Brisbon knowledgeable EcoHealth President Dr. Peter Daszak in a Wednesday letter launched by a House subcommittee investigating the outbreak that there was “adequate evidence” to suggest the nonprofit be minimize off from future authorities contracts, writing “immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest.”

“Debarment is generally for a period not to exceed three years; however, regardless of whether EHA contests this action or responds to this Notice, I may impose debarment for a longer period or shorter period as the circumstances warrant,” Brisbon added.

EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak arrives for a House Select Subcommittee hearing on the Coronavirus Pandemic on Capitol Hill on May 1, 2024 in Washington, DC. The hearing is part of an investigation into Daszak, who's organization is a non-profit whose goal is to prevent pandemics and was involved in investigations into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
HHS deputy assistant secretary for acquisitions Katrina Brisbon knowledgeable EcoHealth President Dr. Peter Daszak there was “adequate evidence” to droop and really helpful his group for debarment … and that fast motion is important to guard the general public curiosity.” Getty Images

In an accompanying memo, Brisbon stated that EcoHealth had been “more than two years late” with one in every of its opinions of a grant proposal for its Wuhan challenge, which had for a time operated round a government-wide moratorium on the apply.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which permitted the grant, gave EcoHealth a number of alternatives to disprove that its experiments constituted gain-of-function research — however the group “failed to do so,” in keeping with Brisbon.

That research additionally “likely violated protocols of the NIH regarding biosafety,” she added, with experiments performed at biosafety degree 2 — which in keeping with Rutgers University molecular biologist Dr. Richard Ebright is similar to the requirements of security at a typical dentist’s office.

Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus make a visit to the institute in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 3, 2021.
Brisbon stated NIH has but to obtain supplies from EcoHealth about its novel bat coronavirus research on the now-infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or from the Chinese lab itself. AFP through Getty Images

Alarmingly, Brisbon revealed that NIH has but to obtain a number of supplies from EcoHealth about its novel bat coronavirus research on the now-notorious Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or from the Chinese lab itself.

Daszak, in sworn congressional testimony earlier this month, stated he had not even requested Wuhan researchers — together with longtime collaborator and WIV deputy director Shi Zhengli — for viral sequences since earlier than the pandemic started.

Brisbon’s memo additionally referenced an inner probe of “allegations that WIV released the coronavirus that was responsible for the COVID-19 global pandemic,” although no EcoHealth or different US-funded grant has been tied but to the outbreak.

“EcoHealth Alliance is disappointed by HHS’ decision today and we will be contesting the proposed debarment,” a spokesperson stated in an announcement. “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.”

Shi Zhengli works with other researchers in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. A 10-member team of international researchers from the World Health Organization hopes to find clues as to the origin of the coronavirus pandemic in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus was first detected in late 2019.
Daszak in sworn congressional testimony earlier this month stated he had not even requested Wuhan researchers — together with WIV deputy director Shi Zhengli — for viral sequences since earlier than the coronavirus pandemic. AP

“EcoHealth Alliance provably defrauded the US government, provably breached contractual terns of US-government grants, and, through the reckless gain-of-function research it conducted in Wuhan, probably caused the COVID-19 pandemic, killing 20 million and costing $25 trillion,” Ebright informed The Post.

“Nevertheless, EcoHealth Alliance was awarded more than $50 million in new US-government funding since the start of the pandemic with most of that funding earmarked for the same kinds of reckless virus discovery and virus enhancement research that likely caused pandemic.”

The memo connected to the letter notes EcoHealth obtained a grant of more than $4 million from the NIH titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.”

More than half 1,000,000 {dollars} of that funding flowed to the WIV between 2014 and 2021, a Government Accountability Office report discovered final 12 months, to conduct “genetic experiments to combine naturally occurring bat coronaviruses with SARS and MERS viruses, resulting in hybridized (also known as chimeric) coronavirus strains.”

The grant was initially suspended in April 2020, with NIH’s then-principal deputy director Lawrence Tabak revealing in October 2021 that EcoHealth had violated the phrases of its grant by performing the gain-of-function research.

EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak appears during a House Select Subcommittee hearing on the Coronavirus Pandemic on Capitol Hill on May 1, 2024 in Washington, DC. The hearing is part of an investigation into Daszak, who's organization is a non-profit whose goal is to prevent pandemics and was involved in investigations into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a May listening to earlier than the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, Daszak repeatedly denied that his group helped fund the gain-of-function experiments. Getty Images

The challenge had modified novel bat coronaviruses and made them 10,000 instances extra infectious for research on lab mice — however EcoHealth “failed to report” that to NIH.

Tabak careworn that the bat coronaviruses studied on the taxpayers’ dime in Wuhan couldn’t have triggered the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of the “sequences of the viruses are genetically very distant.”

But different EcoHealth grant proposals have since come beneath scrutiny from consultants like Ebright, who stated “the evidence provided by the genome sequence” from one other 2018 grant proposal challenge submitted to US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was a “smoking gun.”

Appearing earlier than the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on May 1, Daszak repeatedly denied that his group helped fund the gain-of-function experiments.

“EcoHealth Alliance and Dr. Peter Daszak should never again receive a single penny from the US taxpayer,” stated COVID subcommittee chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), who had really helpful a felony investigation of Daszak earlier than the listening to.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Peter Daszak
Wenstrup in his assertion added that his subcommittee’s “investigation into EcoHealth and the origins of COVID-19 is far from over,” with one other listening to deliberate to grill Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“Only two weeks after the Select Subcommittee released an extensive report detailing EcoHealth’s wrongdoing and recommending the formal debarment of EcoHealth and its president, HHS has begun efforts to cut off all US funding to this corrupt organization,” Wenstrup added.

“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 apparently made false statements to the NIH,” he went on.

“EcoHealth’s immediate funding suspension and future debarment is not only a victory for the US taxpayer, but also for American national security and the safety of citizens worldwide.”

The HHS letter to Daszak additionally drew consideration to otherNIH grantsit received to review viruses in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and different Southeast Asian nations, all of that are “uniquely focused on either emerging infectious disease, highly transmissible pathogens, or novel viruses.”

EcoHealth was barred for 10 years from receiving any HHS grants in July 2023, months after each the FBI and US Energy Department decided a lab leak was the more than likely reason behind the COVID pandemic.

Wenstrup in his assertion added that his subcommittee’s “investigation into EcoHealth and the origins of COVID-19 is far from over,” with high-profile public hearings deliberate in the approaching weeks to query Tabak and former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“There must be full accountability, both civil and criminal, for EcoHealth and EcoHealth’s officers — particularly its president, Peter Daszak,” Ebright declared.

“And there must be full accountability for the US-government officials who enabled, abetted, and covered up EcoHealth’s misdeeds and who obstructed investigation of EcoHealth’s misdeeds.”

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