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COVID Lab Leak: Over four later, EcoHealth Alliance funding is finally suspended

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From Heartland Daily News

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Federal Funding Stripped From Nonprofit at Center of COVID Lab Leak Controversy

Today, the Biden administration suspended federal funding to the scientific nonprofit whose research is at the center of credible theories that the COVID-19 pandemic was started via a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

This morning, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it was immediately suspending three grants provided to the New York-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) as it starts the process of debarring the organization from receiving any federal funds.

“The immediate suspension of [EcoHealth Alliance] is necessary to protect the public interest and due to a cause of so serious or compelling a nature that it affects EHA’s present responsibility,” wrote HHS Deputy Secretary for Acquisitions Henrietta Brisbon in a memorandum signed this morning.

For years now, EcoHealth has generated immense controversy for its use of federal grant money to support gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab.

In a memo justifying its funding suspension, HHS said that EcoHealth had failed to properly monitor the work it was supporting at Wuhan. It also failed to properly report on the results of experiments showing that the hybrid viruses it was creating there had an improved ability to infect human cells.

Congressional Republicans leading an investigation into EcoHealth’s research in Wuhan, and the role it may have played in starting the pandemic via a lab leak, cheered HHS’s decision.

“EcoHealth facilitated gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China without proper oversight, willingly violated multiple requirements of its multimillion-dollar National Institutes of Health [NIH] grant, and apparently made false statements to the NIH,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R–Ohio), chair of the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in a statement. “These actions are wholly abhorrent, indefensible, and must be addressed with swift action.”

Beginning in 2014, EcoHealth received a grant from NIH’s National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to study bat coronavirus in China. Its initial scope of work involved collecting and cataloging viruses in the wild and studying them in the lab to spot which ones might be primed to “spillover” into humans and cause a pandemic.

Soon enough, EcoHealth used some of the viruses they’d collected to create “chimeric” or hybrid viruses that might be better able to infect human lung cells in genetically engineered (humanized) mice.

This so-called “gain-of-function” research has long been controversial for its potential to create deadly pandemic pathogens. In 2014, the Obama administration paused federal funding of gain-of-function research that might turn SARS, MERS, or flu viruses into more transmissible respiratory diseases in mammals.

In 2016, NIH flagged EcoHealth’s work as likely violating the 2014 pause.

EcoHealth President Peter Daszak argued to NIH at the time that the viruses his outfit was creating had not been proven to infect human cells and were genetically different enough from past pandemic viruses that they didn’t fall under the Obama administration pause.

Wuhan Institute of Virology and Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance

NIH accepted this argument under the condition that EcoHealth immediately stop its work and notify the agency if any of its hybrid viruses did show increased viral growth in humanized mice.

But when these hybrid viruses did show increased viral growth in mice, EcoHealth did not immediately stop work or notify NIH. It instead waited until it submitted an annual progress report in 2018 to disclose the results of its experiments.

A second progress report that EcoHealth submitted in 2021, two years after its due date, also showed its hybrid viruses were demonstrating increased viral growth and enhanced lethality in humanized mice.

In testimony to the House’s coronavirus subcommittee earlier this month, Daszak claimed that EcoHealth attempted to report the results of its gain-of-function experiments on time in 2019, but was frozen out of NIH’s reporting system.

The HHS memo released today says a forensic investigation found no evidence that EcoHealth was locked out of NIH’s reporting system. The department also said that EcoHealth had failed to produce requested lab notes and other materials from the Wuhan lab detailing the work being done there and the lab’s biosafety conditions.

These all amount to violations of EcoHealth’s grant agreement and NIH grant policy, thus warranting debarment from future federal funds, reads the HHS memo.

That EcoHealth would be stripped of its federal funding shouldn’t come as too great a shock to anyone who watched Daszak’s congressional testimony from earlier this month. Even Democrats on the committee openly accused Daszak of being misleading about EcoHealth’s work and manipulating facts.

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D–Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House’s coronavirus subcommittee, welcomed EcoHealth’s suspension, saying in a press release that the nonprofit failed its “obligation to meet the utmost standards of transparency and accountability to the American public.”

An HHS Office of the Inspector General report from last year had already found that EcoHealth had failed to submit progress reports on time or effectively monitor its subgrantee, the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

When grilling Daszak, Democrats on the Coronavirus Subcommittee went to great lengths to not criticize NIH’s oversight of EcoHealth’s work. The HHS debarment memo likewise focuses only on EcoHealth’s failures to abide by NIH policy and its grant conditions.

Nevertheless, it seems pretty obvious that NIH was failing to abide by the 2014 pause on gain-of-function funding when it allowed EcoHealth to go ahead with creating hybrid coronaviruses under the condition that they stop if the viruses did prove more virulent.

NIH compounded that oversight failure by not stopping EcoHealth’s funding when the nonprofit did, in fact, create more virulent viruses, and not following up on a never-submitted progress report detailing more gain-of-function research until two years later.

The House Subcommittee’s investigation into NIH’s role in gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab is ongoing. Tomorrow it will interview NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawerence Tabak. In June, it will interview former NIAID Director Anthony Fauci.

Originally published by Reason Foundation. Republished with permission.

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Brownstone Institute

How Did a Small Group Do This?

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From the Brownstone Institute

By JEFFREY A. TUCKER

“You know, it’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.”

A very interesting study appeared last week by two researchers looking into the pandemic policy response around the world. They are Drs. Eran Bendavid and Chirag Patel of Stanford and Harvard, respectively. Their ambition was straightforward. They wanted to examine the effects of government policy on the virus.

In this ambition, after all, researchers have access to an unprecedented amount of information. We have global data on strategies and stringencies. We have global data on infections and mortality. We can look at it all according to the timeline. We have precise dating of stay-at-home orders, business closures, meeting bans, masking, and every other physical intervention you can imagine.

The researchers merely wanted to track what worked and what did not, as a way of informing future responses to viral outbreaks so that public health can learn lessons and do better next time. They presumed from the outset they would discover that at least some mitigation tactics achieved the aim.

It is hardly the first such study. I’ve seen dozens of such efforts, and there are probably hundreds or thousands of these. The data is like catnip to anyone in this field who is empirically minded. So far, not even one empirical examination has shown any effect of anything but that seems like a hard conclusion to swallow. So these two decided to take a look for themselves.

They even went to the next step. They assembled and reassembled all existing data in every conceivable way, running fully 100,000 possible combinations of tests that all future researchers could run. They found some correlations in some policies but the problem is that every time they found one, they found another instance in which the reverse seemed to be true.

You cannot infer causation if the effects are not stable.

After vast data manipulation and looking at every conceivable policy and outcome, the researchers reluctantly come to an incredible conclusion. They conclude that nothing that governments did had any effect. There was only cost, no benefit. Everywhere in the world.

Please just let that sink in.

The policy response destroyed countless millions of small businesses, ruined a generation in learning losses, spread ill health with substance abuse, wrecked churches that could not hold holiday services, decimated arts and cultural institutions, broke trade, unleashed inflation that is nowhere near done with us yet, provoked new forms of online censorship, built government power in a way without precedent, led to new levels of surveillance, spread vaccine injury and death, and otherwise shattered liberties and laws the world over, not to mention leading to frightening levels of political instability.

And for what?

Apparently, it was all for nought.

Nor has there been any sort of serious reckoning. The European Commission elections are perhaps a start, and heavily influenced by public opposition to Covid controls, in addition to other policies that are robbing nations of their histories and identities. The major media can call the victors “far right” all they want but this is really about common people simply wanting their lives back.

It’s interesting to speculate about precisely how many people were involved in setting the world on fire. We know the paradigm was tried first in Wuhan, then blessed by the World Health Organization. As regards the rest of the world, we know some names, and there were many cohorts in public health and gain-of-function research.

Let’s say there are 300 of them, plus many national security and intelligence officials plus their sister agencies around the world. Let’s just add a zero plus multiply that by the large countries, presuming that so many others were copycats.

What are we talking about here? Maybe 3,000 to 5,000 people total in a decision-making capacity? That might be far too high. Regardless, compared with the sheer number of people around the world affected, we are talking about a tiny number, a mico-percent of the world’s population or less making new rules for the whole of humanity.

The experiment was without precedent on this scale. Even Deborah Birx admitted it. “You know, it’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.” The experiment was on whole societies.

How in the world did this come to be? There are explanations that rely on mass psychology, the influence of pharma, the role of the intelligence services, and other theories of cabals and conspiracies. Even with every explanation, the whole thing seems wildly implausible. Surely it would have been impossible without global communications and media, which amplified the entire agenda in every respect.

Because of this, kids could not go to school. People in public parks had to stay within circles. Businesses could not open at full capacity. We developed insane rituals like masking when walking and unmasking when sitting. Oceans of sanitizer would be dumped on all people and things. People were made to be afraid of leaving their homes and clicked buttons to make groceries arrive on their doorsteps.

It was a global science experiment without any foundation in evidence. And the experience utterly transformed our legal systems and lives, introducing uncertainties and anxieties as never before and unleashing a level of crime in major cities that provoked residential, business, and capital flight.

This is a scandal for the ages. And yet hardly anyone in major media seems to be interested in getting to the bottom of it. That’s because, for bizarre reasons, looking too carefully at the culprits and policies here is regarded as being for Trump. And the hate and fear of Trump is so beyond reason at this point that whole institutions have decided to sit back and watch the world burn rather than be curious about what provoked this in the first place.

Instead of an honest accounting of the global upheaval, we are getting the truth in dribs and drabs. Anthony Fauci continues to testify for Congressional hearings and this extremely clever man threw his longtime collaborator under the bus, acting like David Morens was a rogue employee. That action seemed to provoke ex-CDC director Robert Redfield to go public, saying that it was a lab leak from a US-funded lab doing “dual purpose” research into vaccines and viruses, and strongly suggesting that Fauci himself was involved in the cover-up.

Among this group, we are quickly approaching the point of “Every man for himself.” It is fascinating to watch, for those of us who are deeply interested in this question. But for the mainstream media, none of this gets any coverage at all. They act like we should just accept what happened and not think anything about it.

This great game of pretend is not sustainable. To be sure, maybe the world is more broken than we know but something about cosmic justice suggests that when a global policy this egregious, this damaging, this preposterously wrongheaded, does all harm and no good, there are going to be consequences.

Not immediately but eventually.

When will the whole truth emerge? It could be decades from now but we already know this much for sure. Nothing we were promised about the great mitigation efforts by governments turned out to achieve anything remotely what they promised. And yet even now, the World Health Organization continues to uphold such interventions as the only way forward.

Meanwhile, the paradigm of bad science backed by force pervades nearly everything these days, from climate change to medical services to information controls.

When will evidence matter again?


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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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COVID-19

‘Incompetence’: Pentagon Doesn’t Know How Much Money It Sent To Chinese Entities For Risky Virus Research

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By NICK POPE

 

The Department of Defense (DOD) does not know how much money it directly or indirectly sent to Chinese entities to conduct research on viruses with pandemic potential, according to a new report by the DOD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The OIG’s report found that DOD has supplied Chinese entities — whether directly or indirectly via subgrants — with taxpayer cash to research pathogens and the enhancement thereof, but the exact figure is unknown because of “limitations” in the DOD’s internal tracking system. Government funding for such research in China has come under scrutiny since the coronavirus pandemic, which multiple government entities believe started when an engineered virus leaked from a Chinese laboratory that was hosting U.S. government-backed gain-of-function research.

“Incompetence, absurdity, insanity; it’s hard to find a word that adequately describes this. Of all the things that DOD tracks, funds for dangerous research that could find their way to a hostile regime should be at the top of the list of those they keep close tabs on,” Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, told the Daily Caller News Foundation regarding the OIG report’s findings. “It makes you wonder if they really know where all our nuclear warheads are. The military is one of the few areas of government in which the public still maintains a modicum of trust, but, sadly, it looks like they are working hard to squander even that.”

The OIG review of this specific issue was required by the terms of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2024, which President Joe Biden signed into law in December 2023. The OIG’s investigation sought to determine just how much taxpayer cash was routed via “grants, contracts, subgrants, subcontracts, or any other type of agreement or collaboration, to Chinese research labs or to fund research or experiments in China or other foreign countries that could have reasonably resulted in the enhancement of pathogens of pandemic potential, from 2014 through 2023.”

Specifically, the OIG learned from U.S. Army officials that 12 grant awards fit the description of what it was investigating, seven of which were subgrants or subcontracts provided to entities in China or other foreign countries for research involving or related to enhanced pathogens, its report states. The OIG’s review also identified a further $9.9 million in funding that reached Chinese entities for research purposes, though that research was unrelated to pathogens.

“However, we did encounter significant challenges in searching for awards related to section 252 of the FY 2024 NDAA reporting requirement due to limitations in the DoD’s systems used to track contracts and grants,” the OIG report states. “Therefore, the full extent of DoD funds provided to Chinese research laboratories or other foreign countries for research related to enhancement of pathogens of pandemic potential is unknown.”

The issues with DOD’s grant tracking systems created “significant constraints” for OIG that “hindered [its] ability to conduct a thorough examination” of DOD’s involvement in funding this specific type of research, the report states.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) previously conducted a similar review of DOD’s spending and Chinese entities receiving taxpayer dollars to conduct research on pathogens of pandemic potential, and its final report — published in September 2022 — also detailed similar struggles with the DoD’s grant and sub-grant tracking systems.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic most likely began when the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, which was the site of gain-of-function research funded by the U.S. government via an organization called EcoHealth Alliance. Additionally, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray has acknowledged that his organization has reached a similar conclusion.

Despite this, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci has reiterated his position that a lab leak is the less likely scenario of the two as recently as Tuesday. The COVID-19 pandemic killed more than one million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and millions more globally, while the American policy response to the pandemic inflicted considerable economic and social damage on the general public.

The DOD did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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