Last week, EcoHealth Alliance’s Peter Daszak responded to a demand from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for “any and all unpublished data” from its experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Daszak’s letter not only failed to provide NIH with the required information, it also revealed that crucial virus data from EcoHealth’s experiments with the Wuhan Institute (WIV) are actively being censored by Chinese Communist Party authorities.
Additionally, Daszak revealed that EcoHealth and the lab continued to jointly conduct gain-of-function experiments into April 2020 and EcoHealth’s experiments may have continued beyond that point. The letter also disclosed the existence of additional EcoHealth progress reports on its activities in Wuhan that covered the critical periods directly before and immediately after the start of the pandemic. Those reports haven’t been made public.
These latest revelations followed an Oct. 20 letter to Congress written by NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak. In that letter, the NIH finally conceded that it had funded gain-of-function experiments that were conducted by EcoHealth and the WIV.
In conjunction with this admission, the NIH sent a separate letter addressed to EcoHealth, which gave the organization five days to submit to NIH “any and all unpublished data” from its experiments at the Wuhan lab.
Daszak responded in a five-page letter sent to NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Michael Lauer. Instead of directly replying to NIH’s demand letter about EcoHealth’s missing data, Daszak framed his response as a direct retort to Tabak’s letter to Congress.
Daszak’s letter, reading more like a legal response than a compliance response, took issue with a number of items in Tabak’s letter and noted that “these types of mistakes about the timing or nature of our reporting can be better addressed by contacting us to request clarification prior to responding to any congressional inquiry.”
EcoHealth Cites ‘System Lockout’ for Submission Failure
NIH had demanded EcoHealth’s outstanding data after it became publicly known that the organization failed to submit a required fifth-year progress report on experiments it was doing at the Wuhan Institute in 2018 and 2019. EcoHealth’s failure to submit this report was only recently discovered, after The Intercept sued the NIH for documents relating to EcoHealth.
Daszak said that EcoHealth had actually first uploaded the fifth-year report in July 2019—before the Sept. 30, 2019, deadline—but claimed that when they tried to “officially submit” the uploaded report, the system “locked” EcoHealth out “at that point.”
Daszak also claimed that EcoHealth made one request for “further information” about the submission failure from an NIH grant-management specialist, but didn’t receive a response. Daszak then blamed the NIH for EcoHealth’s submission failure by noting that NIH never sent a request for the fifth-year report despite being in “frequent communication” with NIH staff during that period.
Daszak’s letter fails to explain why other EcoHealth NIH-funded projects apparently didn’t run into similar lockouts.
Daszak said he heard nothing on the matter until July 23, when EcoHealth received the first demand letter from NIH—sent as a result of the Intercept lawsuit—requesting the missing fifth-year report. Daszak claimed that EcoHealth complied immediately but still had difficulty in circumventing the NIH “system lockout.”
Daszak also claimed that the NIH renewed EcoHealth’s grant in July 2019, and Daszak cited this new grant award from NIH as providing justification for his failure to submit the fifth-year report.
“Because the new award had been made and the work was permitted to commence, we had no indication there was anything missing.”
Daszak stated that he “assumed that the Year 1 report for the renewal grant would provide all of the relevant information” to NIH.
EcoHealth Gain-of-Function Work With Wuhan Lab Appears to Have Continued Into at Least 2020
Daszak’s disclosure of the existence of a new and previously unknown “Year 1” report for the period from mid-2019 to 2020 in the NIH renewal grant reveals that Daszak’s virus work with the Wuhan lab went well beyond the timeframe covered by the missing fifth-year report. Exactly how long EcoHealth’s work continued, and exactly what that work entailed, isn’t yet known.
However, it appears that EcoHealth’s virus experiments with the Wuhan Institute continued throughout 2019 and into 2020. It’s been reported that President Donald Trump had forced NIH to terminate EcoHealth’s funding of work at the WIV in April 2020.
Daszak’s letter acknowledged that “even though the grant was terminated and then suspended, and funding is not available to us to work on this, we have continued to comply with NIH reporting requests, and submitted reporting for Years 6 and 7 of this grant.”
“Years 6 and 7” equate to the first two years of the 2019 to 2024 renewal grant that was issued in July 2019. These reports haven’t been made public, nor is it known what types of experiments, if any, were conducted during this period.
EcoHealth Attempts to Obfuscate Virus Growth
Under the original NIH grant, EcoHealth was obligated to immediately stop any experiments that showed evidence of enhanced virus growth greater than 10 times compared to the original virus.
However, EcoHealth didn’t immediately report, nor stop an experiment at the Institute that created novel coronaviruses with 10,000 times higher viral load—orders of magnitude greater than the limit that should have triggered the NIH obligation.
This experiment was belatedly reported after the fact as part of the fourth-year progress report submitted by EcoHealth in 2018. To make matters worse, related experiments continued into year 5–the period for which EcoHealth had originally failed to submit a progress report.
Daszak appears to have circumvented the NIH reporting requirements by claiming that the viral load data was based on “genome copies per gram not viral titer.” But the NIH never specified using “viral titer measuring”—a process that Daszak didn’t even undertake.
Rather, the NIH’s directive on cessation of experiments only cited “viral growth,” which Daszak’s experiments demonstrated beyond question.
Rutgers University biologist Richard Ebright wrote on Twitter that the attempt to invoke viral titer measuring by Daszak is a “distinction without a difference.” The viral load grew to over 10,000 when it should have remained under 10. By any measure, the laboratory-created virus was far more pathogenic than the reporting trigger requirements set forth in the NIH grant.
Daszak appears to have attempted to bolster his weak excuse, claiming that given the small number of humanized mice used to conduct the experiment, it was “uncertain whether the survival and weight loss data were statistically relevant.” In other words, Daszak was essentially arguing that the out-of-bounds results of EcoHealth’s experiments should be ignored because EcoHealth’s work had been sloppy.
Ebright responded to Daszak’s excuse by tweeting that “EcoHealth has reached a point of such desperation that it now points to the slipshod character of its research, and the limited predictive value of its research, as defense.”
EcoHealth Admits to CCP Censorship, Control of Data
In the last section of his letter, Daszak admitted that EcoHealth has still failed to provide the data demanded by NIH.
Daszak blamed President Trump for terminating EcoHealth’s grant in April 2020, claiming that the lack of funding and the instructions to cease work with the Wuhan lab had led to “significant disruption of the normal interactions and dialogue among collaborating scientists.”
The reference to the disruption of dialogue between scientists serves as a not-so-subtle reminder that access to much of the EcoHealth data is dependent on Chinese consent.
Daszak made that point abundantly clear when he told the NIH that he was unable to share genetic sequence data obtained through NIH-funded experiments precisely because that data was going through an approval process by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities.
In other words, U.S. taxpayers gave Daszak millions of dollars, funded through Fauci’s organization—the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—to conduct advanced gain-of-function experiments, only for the results of those experiments to be withheld and censored by the CCP.
This absurd arrangement with the CCP is inherently a breach of the terms and conditions of Daszak’s NIH grant, which specifically demanded that all genetic sequence data be made publicly available. CCP oversight and control isn’t part of that agreement.
That the genetic sequence data remains under the control of the CCP also completely invalidates both Daszak’s and NIH’s emphatic claims that EcoHealth’s Wuhan experiments couldn’t have caused the pandemic.
In reality, it’s simply not knowable what viruses were studied—because Daszak hasn’t released all his data and because some significant portion of that data remains subject to CCP censorship.
While it appears as though EcoHealth and NIH are now engaged in a potentially escalating war of words, their interests remain fundamentally aligned. EcoHealth and NIH share the same underlying goal–to convince the world that they weren’t involved in the creation of COVID-19.