A letter sent Tuesday from members of Congress to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm is demanding a “prompt and thorough investigation” into the National Institutes of Health’s relationship with the Chinese Communist Party-run Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The 28 congressional signers, led by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., write:
The NIH, unfortunately, has played a major role in supporting [the Wuhan Institute of Virology] and this treacherous research and the promotion of spurious claims dismissing the NIH-funded lab’s potential role in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is suspected by experts, including the U.S. State Department, to have caused the COVID-19 pandemic through an accidental lab leak.
Lawmakers write that the NIH and Pentagon are responsible for “secretively” funneling tax dollars to the Wuhan research lab through the U.S.-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has already received $600,000 in U.S. taxpayer funds between 2014 and 2019 to study bat-based coronaviruses through EcoHealth Alliance, and the lab is still authorized to receive U.S. tax dollars for animal experiments until 2024.
“In 2017, NIH Director Francis Collins personally supported and celebrated the resumption of dangerous taxpayer-funded ‘gain-of-function’ research designed to make viruses more transmissible and fatal,” the letter says. “[E]xperts now claim that WIV’s gain-of-function research could very well have engineered the novel coronavirus that caused the pandemic from a virus collected from bats in caves in China.”
Since January, American intelligence has had evidence that researchers at the Wuhan lab became infected with COVID-like symptoms before the first known cases in December 2019. “Despite the [Wuhan Institute of Virology] presenting itself as a civilian institution, the United States has determined that the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military,” the State Department reported. “The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.”
China, the corporate media, and health officials have dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” the hypothesis of U.S. intelligence that the Wuhan laboratory caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Collins was one of them. The letter cites a still-published blog post Collins wrote in March of 2020, in which he states, “Some folks are even making outrageous claims that the new coronavirus causing the pandemic was engineered in a lab.” Collins shared a link to his article on Twitter, writing in the caption, “New genomic study debunks claims that the novel #coronavirus causing #COVID- 19 was created in a lab.”
The letter adds that EcoHealth’s president also “sided with the CCP and openly criticized the U.S. government for investigating the theory that SARS-CoV-2 originated in the WIV lab to which he directed NIH funds and has closely collaborated with for decades.”
“In light of all this, we are gravely concerned about the NIH’s relationship with both EcoHealth and WIV, and the Agency’s handling of allegations that the COVID-19 pandemic was potentially caused by an NIH-funded laboratory at WIV,” the letter continues. “We also are alarmed that WIV is eligible to receive additional funding from the NIH through 2024.”
The members of Congress are requesting an investigation into the following questions concerning the NIH’s connections to the Wuhan Institute of Virology:
- When was the NIH first aware that coronavirus experiments were being conducted at WIV with taxpayer funds (via EcoHealth Alliance or otherwise)?
- Did NIH officials review WIV’s coronavirus experiments to assess compliance with Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight (P3CO) guidelines?
- When was the NIH first aware of biosafety or other concerns at WIV?
- Was the NIH briefed on the concerns raised by the State Department in 2018 about the potential pandemic risk of WIV’s research?
- Did Dr. Collins or other NIH officials communicate with EcoHealth Alliance and/or WIV to coordinate responses to lab leak allegations?
- When does WIV’s current eligibility to receive NIH funding expire?
- Is WIV currently receiving any NIH support directly or indirectly?
- How much NIH funding — directly or indirectly — has WIV received from the NIH including grants, sub-grants, and other funding sources.
“Shipping U.S. tax dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology — a CCP-run animal lab working to supercharge coronaviruses so they’re deadlier and more contagious — is a recipe for disaster,” said Mackie Burr of White Coat Waste Project, the nonpartisan watchdog group that discovered the Wuhan lab is still authorized to receive U.S. tax dollars until 2024.
“We applaud Congressman Scott Perry and his colleagues for working to hold the NIH accountable for funding WIV’s reckless research, for allowing it to receive even more tax money for animal tests until 2024, and for hastily dismissing experts’ concerns that this taxpayer-funded lab may have caused the COVID-19 outbreak before any real investigation has been conducted,” Burr said.