House Republicans remain focused on their investigation of the origins of COVID-19 and specifically whether EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. (EHA) should be deemed ineligible and prohibited from receiving taxpayer-funded federal contracts and grants. On Tuesday, the lawmakers sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra insisting he launches an investigation into the matter. The letter states that, at the very least, EcoHealth and its principal, Dr. Peter Daszak, have acted in an unethical and non-compliant manner.
Led by Steve Scalise (R-LA), Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Ranking Member, and James Comer (R-KY), House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member, the letter references the "jarring exposé" in Vanity Fair published on Mar. 31 along with documents provided to the House Oversight Committee Republicans from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The congress members wrote:
"According to Vanity Fair, Daszak immediately engaged in a cover-up of the origins of COVID-19. He and a small cadre of scientists worked in concert to 'present the lab-leak hypothesis as a groundless and destructive conspiracy theory.'"
As reported by UncoverDC, documents recently released following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the non-partisan group Empower Oversight disclosed that the NIH deleted information about COVID-19 sequencing at the request of researchers at China's Wuhan University. Daszak and EcoHealth have also worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and before it started, with EcoHealth crafting language adopted by the NIH that allowed it to govern its own work.
Not surprisingly, House Republicans are frustrated with EHA's lack of cooperation in their repeated requests for information from the company and what it knows about the origins of SARS-CoV-2, which date back over a year. The Apr. 19, 2020 letter explains that, as spelled out by Vanity Fair, "Daszak, due to his close ties to the WIV, was in a position to uncover the truth of the origins of COVID-19, but that was not in his own financial or reputational interest."
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Explaining Daszak's "obfuscation of the truth" further, the letter highlights critical moments that substantiate the notion his motives are self-serving and his actions are not in the best interest of the United States. Case in point, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, an economist who oversees the COVID-19 commission at the Lancet, dismissed Daszak from the effort after Daszak "flatly refused to share progress reports from his contested research grants."
The lawmakers write that eight years prior, in 2014, NIH awarded EHA a $3.7 million grant entitled "Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence." In 2016, EHA and Dr. Daszak failed to file a timely annual report, falling out of compliance with the terms of the grant. Documents provided to the Committee show that when Daszak did file the report, it became evident that EHA, in collaboration with WIV, had engaged in gain-of-function research in violation of the moratorium. The letter states:
"Dr. Daszak argued and bullied NIH into accepting his own definition of gain-of-function, shielded his work from the NIH, and supported the WIV's decision to take down their online database of viral sequences. All the while, he claimed to know what was in the database but refused to share it saying: 'We don't think it's fair that we should have to reveal everything we do'."
Interestingly, on Feb. 1, 2021, a flurry of activity centered around an emergency teleconference about the origins of COVID-19 that involved Dr. Anthony Fauci and others. The global group—which included Sir. Jeremy Farrar and other experts tied the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and Bill Gates—were seemingly instrumental in driving the COVID-19 origins narrative. Tellingly, a topic covered in their clandestine call was the investigative experiments performed by WIV Director Shi Zhengli and her partner EHA's Peter Daszak on thousands of bats and the discovery of hundreds of new coronaviruses.
Emphasizing Daszak's refusal to cooperate, the Republicans note that in Oct. 2021, the NIH demanded Dr. Daszak "come clean and turn over information on virus sequences." However, instead of complying, they explain that to date, he continues to withhold information claiming to be "waiting for the Chinese government to authorize their [the database of virus sequences] release."
The Republican legislators request in their letter that Becerra and HHS immediately commence adjudicating EHA and Dr. Daszak's present responsibility, compliance with NIH's grant requirements, and general integrity and ethics. The lawmakers point out the Committee has broad authority to investigate "any matter" at "any time" under House Rule X. Furthermore, the Select Subcommittee is empowered to investigate "any ...issues related to the coronavirus crisis." Irritated at Daszak's explanation that he is waiting on the Chinese communist party to permit him to respond to their requests, the lawmakers wrote:
"This is an outrageous position to take given the fact that Dr. Daszak's research is funded by U.S. taxpayers and he may hold the keys to uncovering the origins of COVID-19—a virus that has taken the lives of over six million people across the globe."
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