Lab leak fears deepen: Audit finds NIH did not keep tabs on Wuhan lab
Covid lab leak fears deepen: Bombshell Government report says NIH failed to keep tabs on Wuhan lab where US taxpayer-funded grants were used for coronavirus research years before pandemic
- Report by the US Office of Inspector General documents catalogue of NIH errors
- Looked at three taxpayer-funded grants given to notorious EcoHealth Alliance
- EcoHealth-funded coronavirus research in Wuhan feared to have caused Covid
The NIH was blasted today by an official watchdog for failing to keep tabs on US-sponsored virus experiments in China, which are feared to have caused the Covid crisis.
A report by the US Office of Inspector General found the country’s medical research agency did not properly review whether the tests in Wuhan involved dangerous pathogens with pandemic potential.
The federal audit looked at three taxpayer-funded research grants awarded to the now-notorious EcoHealth Alliance, run by British scientist Peter Daszak, between 2014 and 2021.
It found the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and EcoHealth failed to ‘understand the nature of the research conducted, identify potential problem areas, and take corrective action’.
‘With improved oversight, NIH may have been able to take more timely corrective actions to mitigate the inherent risks associated with this type of research,’ the report adds.
Virologist Shi Zheng-li – nicknamed the ‘Bat Lady’ – is pictured in the lab. She hunted down dozens of deadly Covid-like viruses in bat caves and studied them at the WIV
Pictured: The Wuhan Institute of Virology, where crucial data was wiped by Chinese scientists
The question of whether the global outbreak began with a spillover from wildlife sold at the market or leaked out of the Wuhan lab just eight miles across the Yangtze River has given rise to fierce debate about how to prevent the next pandemic. New studies point to a natural spillover at the Huanan wildlife market. Positive swab samples of floors, cages and counters also track the virus back to stalls in the southwestern corner of the market (bottom left), where animals with the potential to harbor Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time (bottom right)
While the lab leak theory was initially dismissed as conspiracy and xenophobic, a growing number of scientists have come round to the idea the virus may have escaped during an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
The research facility is located less than 10 miles away from an animal slaughter market where the first series of human cases were clustered and was known to be experimenting on coronaviruses closely related to Covid.
The WIV was one of eight research facilities awarded subcontracts by EcoHealth between 2014 and 2021.
Policymakers said there was ‘substantial’ evidence of an accident at a research facility — while evidence for a natural spillover is ‘still missing’.
Today’s US Department of Health and Human Services audit said there was a lack of oversight by the NIH and EcoHealth at the Chinese lab and other research facilities that benefitted from Government grants.
The report said: ‘Despite identifying potential risks associated with research being performed under the EcoHealth awards, we found that NIH did not effectively monitor or take timely action to address EcoHealth’s compliance with some requirements.
‘Although NIH and EcoHealth had established monitoring procedures, we found deficiencies in complying with those procedures limited NIH and EcoHealth’s ability to effectively monitor federal grant awards and subawards to understand the nature of the research conducted, identify potential problem areas, and take corrective action.
‘Using its discretion, NIH did not refer the research to HHS for an outside review for enhanced potential pandemic pathogens (ePPPs) because it determined the research did not involve and was not reasonably anticipated to create, use, or transfer an ePPP.
‘Based on these findings, we conclude that NIH missed opportunities to more effectively monitor research.’
Justin Goodman, from the White Coat Waste Project group, said: ‘This audit confirms what we have been documenting since early 2020 when we first exposed NIH’s funding of the Wuhan lab: EcoHealth Alliance shipped tax dollars to Wuhan for dangerous animal experiments that probably caused the pandemic, violated federal laws and policies and wasted tax dollars.
British researcher Dr Peter Daszak’s (left) role in facilitating risky coronavirus research in China with funding from Dr Fauci (right) and the NIH have been detailed in a report
‘Yet, the Wuhan lab remains eligible for even more taxpayer money for animal tests and just since the pandemic began, EcoHealth has raked in at least $46 million in new federal funds from the DOD, USAID, NIH, and NSF.
‘As the group that first exposed and ended EcoHealth’s calamitous collaboration with the Wuhan animal lab, we’re calling on Congress to defund these rogue organizations once and for all.
‘Taxpayers should not be forced to bankroll reckless white coats who waste money, break the law and place public health in peril. Stop the money, stop the madness.’
More to follow.
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