Washington Examiner

HHS halts funding for group behind Wuhan virus study

The Department of‍ Health and Human Services suspended federal‍ funding for EcoHealth Alliance, accusing them of misleading ​about taxpayer-funded ‍research on SARS-CoV-2‍ in Wuhan, ‌China. EcoHealth’s president, Peter Daszak, faced calls for a criminal investigation. Republicans urge‌ cutting off U.S. funding to EcoHealth and ⁣Daszak, emphasizing the need to protect public interest. The⁢ Department of Health and Human Services has ‍suspended federal funding ‌for EcoHealth ​Alliance, alleging deception regarding taxpayer-funded⁤ research⁢ on SARS-CoV-2 in ⁣Wuhan, China. Peter Daszak, the⁤ president of EcoHealth, ‍is under scrutiny and ⁣facing demands⁤ for a criminal probe. Republicans⁣ are advocating for the termination of U.S. funding⁤ to ‌EcoHealth and Daszak to safeguard⁣ public interest.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday suspended all federal funding for the nonprofit research organization EcoHealth Alliance for misleading government agencies about their taxpayer-funded research project.

The announcement follows a long-term House investigation into EcoHealth’s potential involvement in the origin of SARS-CoV-2. The organization came under intense scrutiny during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic for its coronavirus research projects conducted in Wuhan, China, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

HHS’s Suspension and Debarment Official, Henrietta Brisbon, wrote to EcoHealth President Peter Daszak that the immediate suspension of funding for his organization is “necessary to protect the public interest and due to a cause of so serious or compelling nature that it affects [EcoHealth’s] present responsibility.”

Republicans on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic issued a report earlier this month calling for the president of EcoHealth, Peter Daszak, to be stripped of his medical license and criminally investigated for allegedly misleading the federal government.

“EcoHealth Alliance and Dr. Peter Daszak should never again receive a single penny from the U.S. taxpayer,” said Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH). “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 U.S. funding to this corrupt organization.”

The Republican report and HHS documents outline that EcoHealth received National Institutes of Health funding in 2014 to conduct bat coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with the intention of creating chimeric coronaviruses to better understand natural emergence of viruses with pandemic potential.

Subcommittee evidence published this month found that EcoHealth submitted its Year 5 Report for National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases review two years late and violated grant terms by failing to report potentially dangerous research from the WIV to NIAID.

“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,” said Wenstrup.

Suspension and debarment, which is the long-term prohibition of receiving of federal funds, is a primary public mechanism that “protects the federal government from fraud waste and abuse by using a number of tools to avoid doing business with non-responsible actors,” according to the U.S. General Services Administration definition.

Although the suspension is immediate, a debarment period is established after a formal hearing process and is usually only three years in length depending on aggravating circumstances.

EcoHealth has been a major recipient of federal funds for global research projects for decades. Last month, the watchdog group White Coat Waste Project found that EcoHealth had been awarded $60 million in taxpayer funding since the start of the COVID-19.

The Washington Examiner asked EcoHealth for comment.

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