The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday it will be investigating the National Institutes of Health’s grant program, including grants linked to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
“We share stakeholders’ concerns regarding compliance and oversight of NIH grant funds,” Office of the Inspector General communications director Tesia Williams told CNN. Republicans have demanded increased transparency regarding grants awarded to non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, which funneled money to the WIV.
The review, which isn’t expected to be released until 2022, will examine how the NIH monitored grants and how federal funds were used and managed by grantees between 2014 and 2021, Williams said. During that time frame, EcoHealth sent millions of dollars in NIH grant money to the Wuhan lab.
EcoHealth has been the subject of extensive scrutiny as momentum behind the lab-leak hypothesis of COVID-19 origin has grown. In March, a government watchdog group called White Coat Waste alleged that the non-profit violated federal law by failing to disclose its taxpayer funding.
#Iowa taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for any org that fails to comply with federal law. My bill would prevent federal funding from going to organizations, like EcoHealth, until they provide answers on how & where taxpayer $ is being spent. https://t.co/OYHLXemj7O
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) June 15, 2021
Earlier this month, Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan launched an investigation into the lack of government oversight on dangerous gain-of-function research that makes pathogens more dangerous. Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst introduced the STOP Act on Tuesday, which would cut off funding to groups that don’t cooperate with federal oversight or shirk federal disclosure laws, as EcoHealth is alleged to have done.
The Inspector General’s review will reportedly examine the use of NIH grant money to ensure all grantees are compliant with federal law and regulations. (RELATED: Republicans Introduce Bill To Cut Off Funding For Wuhan Lab)
The WIV’s use of U.S. grant money has been the subject of some dispute. Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, with the backing of some scientists, has alleged that the NIH was funding gain-of-function research at the WIV through its grants to EcoHealh. Funding of gain-of-function research was prohibited by the NIH for a time between 2014 and 2017.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, denies that allegation. He accused Paul of being “entirely and completely incorrect.”
Peter Daszak, the head of EcoHealth Alliance, was the sole American member of the World Health Organizations’ compromised COVID-19 origin investigative team. Daszak has gone to extensive lengths to cover up evidence of the lab-leak theory and mislead the public on the activities taking place at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with which he has had a close professional relationship for years.
The NIH isn’t the only agency to ship taxpayer dollars to EcoHealth. The group received a pandemic bailout earlier this year, and it has gotten at least $37 million from the Department of Defense as well.