Nix federal grants to EcoHealth Alliance, say Reschenthaler, Ernst

U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) recently led dozens of their colleagues in condemning grant awards made by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to a New York-based nonprofit that has funneled federal tax dollars to a Chinese lab overseas.

The EcoHealth Alliance Inc., led by President Peter Daszak, has sent nearly $1.7 million in federal tax dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a research institute on virology administered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which reports to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. 

EcoHealth also has repeatedly failed to comply with federal law and reporting requirements for federal grants, according to two separate Oct. 7 letters sent to NIH Director Lawrence Tabak and NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. 

“As you may know,” the lawmakers wrote in each letter, “the WIV is a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) laboratory and the likely origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“It is a gross abuse of hard-working Americans’ tax dollars to continue to fund EcoHealth Alliance,” Rep. Reschenthaler said in a joint statement with Sen. Ernst and other colleagues. “EcoHealth and its president, Peter Daszak, are complicit in failing to comply with federal law and collaborating with a [CCP] secret laboratory.”

According to the NSF letter, the agency recently awarded a $1 million grant for a project that will include EcoHealth Alliance for Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention, and also plans to award another grant to EcoHealth for $263,801 in January 2023. 

The NSF letter, which is signed by 40 members of Congress, requests that NSF terminate its grant relationship with EcoHealth and poses several oversight questions regarding how EcoHealth was selected for this project.  

Additionally, NIH announced a five-year grant beginning with an award of $653,392 to conduct more studies on coronaviruses from bats in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, according to the NIH letter signed by 30 members of Congress. 

Rep. Reschenthaler, Sen. Ernst, and their colleagues detail EcoHealth Alliance’s history of grant compliance failure and lack of transparency, and they requested that NIH end its grant relationship with the nonprofit, as well.

The funding announcements are “deeply concerning given EcoHealth’s lengthy history of reporting failures and collaboration with the WIV,” wrote the lawmakers in both letters.

“Because EcoHealth broke federal laws, withheld evidence, and conducted dangerous research in unsafe conditions, this group should never be trusted to put its hands on taxpayer dollars or bats ever again,” said Sen. Ernst. “Let’s defund EcoHealth and launch a real scientific investigation to find out once and for all what was really happening in Wuhan, China, so the same mistakes are never repeated again.”