House Republicans say EcoHealth Alliance withheld COVID-19 research data in bid to preserve funding
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FIRST ON FOX: House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans are calling for further investigation of EcoHealth Alliance and its chairman after the organization allegedly withheld certain COVID-19 research data from peer reviewers in an effort to retain National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.
EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit group that claims to be dedicated to ‘protecting wildlife and public health from emerging disease’, is coming under scrutiny from Republicans on reports that he provided in reports related to his “humanized mouse experiments” at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, according to a lengthy letter obtained by Fox News Digital that Republicans sent Monday to the acting NIH director , Lawrence Tabak.
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Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. ; Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.; and Morgan Griffith, R-Va. signed the letter, which addresses Republicans’ multiple concerns and asks the agency to determine whether certain data was “intentionally withheld” to preserve an NIH grant after an EcoHealth report review panel found multiple differences.
“Our review of EcoHealth Alliance’s reports of its humanized mouse experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology using National Institutes of Health funds shows widespread discrepancies, inconsistencies, and omissions in its progress reports and its renewal application that raise serious questions about scientific and ethical misconduct, violations of NIH policies and regulations, and possible misrepresentation and fraud,” the Republicans wrote.
“As a result, we are asking the NIH to investigate Dr. Peter Daszak, the principal investigator of R01AIll0964, and other EcoHealth officials to determine whether certain mouse death-related data and other important information have been disclosed. intentionally withheld during the peer review process for EcoHealth’s grant renewal application,” they added.
The five-year grant, according to the letter, was awarded from June 2014 to May 2019 and required EcoHealth to provide annual progress reports to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). A peer-reviewed grant renewal application submitted by EcoHealth determines if – and how much – funding would be provided.
Around early November 2018, EcoHealth submitted a renewal application to NIAID and the grant was renewed for another five years. That grant, issued before EcoHealth submitted its Year 5 progress report, was valued at $3.7 million plus an increase of $369,819 from the first grant, the letter said.
“EcoHealth first proposed testing SARS-like chimeric viruses in a humanized mouse experiment to assess pathogenicity in the spring of 2016,” the letter states. “The NIH approved this research in July 2016 on the condition that EcoHealth immediately stop its experiments and report to the NIH if there was more than one log of viral growth in any of the groups of mice infected with one. chimeric viruses.
Pointing to three EcoHealth documents — the Year 4 progress report, the NIAID grant renewal application, and the Year 5 progress report — Republicans took aim at the group on language that he used in reports related to the mouse experiment that prevented peer reviewers from seeing full research results that may have been terminated without further grant renewal.
The Republicans claimed that the organization removed the word “dead” from the term “dead point” in a paragraph of its renewal application and described the infected mice in the experiment with a 75% mortality rate as having no only “mild” clinical symptoms.
Additionally, Republicans said the experiment’s full results showed discrepancies and omissions that would have prompted questions from peer reviewers about the conduct of the experiment.
“The NIH needs to take a closer look at Peter Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Their apparent cover-up of an experiment on humanized mice at the Wuhan lab was an attempt to subvert the NIH peer review process. Daszak has a long record of discrepancies and dubious claims that must make subject to further investigation.”
In a November 2021 letter to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), committee Republicans highlighted numerous misconduct concerns about Daszak and called for an investigation of EcoHealth, saying the group had violated the code of conduct of NAM members.
“After receiving our letter, NAM informed us that they had initiated an internal review into Daszak’s behavior, at our request,” an aide to the Energy and Commerce Committee told Fox News Digital. “We believe this letter about potential misrepresentation and fraud by EcoHealth is relevant to NAM’s ongoing investigation of Peter Daszak, so we have sent NAM a copy of this letter as well.”
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Earlier this year, 25 House Republicans sent a letter to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) after it awarded a nearly $5 million grant to EcoHealth, questioning whether the agency had considered the concerns surrounding the organization before providing financial support for research. .
A copy of the letter House Republicans sent on Monday has also been provided to the National Academy of Medicine and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General as the committee continues its investigation. on the origins of COVID-19.