Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C) are calling on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate the EcoHealth Alliance and its President Dr. Peter Daszak for a possible "cover-up" and "fraud."
"Our review of EcoHealth Alliance's reports about its humanized mice experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) using funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows pervasive discrepancies, inconsistencies, and omissions in its progress reports and renewal application that raise serious questions about scientific and ethical misconduct, violations of NIH policies and regulations, and possible false statements and fraud," the GOP members of the House E&C wrote in a letter to NIH acting Director Dr. Lawrence Tabak on Monday.
"Accordingly, we request the NIH investigate Dr. Peter Daszak, the Principal Investigator of R01AIll0964, and other EcoHealth officials to determine whether certain data related to mice deaths and other material information were intentionally withheld during the peer review process for EcoHealth's grant renewal application."
"R01AIll0964" is the identification number of EcoHealth's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) grant from June 2014 to May 2019. Dr. Anthony Fauci is the NIAID director now and during that time.
EcoHealth Alliance had its grant suspended by the Trump administration after the revelations of its ties to the WIV amid the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in June 2020.
E&C Republicans seek to investigate "Peter Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance for research cover-up and possible fraud," it wrote in a release outlining the letter to Tabak, which was signed by a trio of GOP ranking members:
- E&C: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
- Health: Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.
- Oversight and Investigations: Rep. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.
The Republicans allege EcoHealth Alliance and Daszak faced a "brewing financial crisis" leading to a "cover-up" and potential "fraud" of laboratory mice deaths. They allege EcoHealth's grant renewal application concealed mice deaths by reproducing two figures from their "Year 4" report but deleted the word "dead" from the term "dead point," therefore potentionally covering up the mice deaths.
The renewal application's use of the word "dead" was defaced and deleted. However, EcoHealth used "dead" in its Year 5 report.
Deleting the word "dead" and concealing that fact from peer reviewers raises scientific and ethical concerns, they allege.
"EcoHealth found itself with unpleasant choices," the letter read. "It could admit that it was doing gain-of-function research, or risk losing money it desperately needed from NIAID. Given the financial pressures it was facing and the culture of 'getting money' urged by Dr. Daszak, the presentation of the humanized mice data in the renewal application appears intentional.
"If the mice deaths had been disclosed, it is reasonable to expect that the peer reviewers would have noted these results and the discrepancies in the data when the data of both Year 4 and Year 5 reports are combined.
"Had the peer reviewers seen the mice death data from the survival rate graph held back for the Year 5 report, they would have known mice were dying at high rates from the chimeric viruses in a risky experiment. There was a significant probability that reviewers would have wanted to stop such risky research and not continue EcoHealth's funding."
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