A group of Republican Representatives sent a letter on Tuesday to Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm requesting an investigation into the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) connection with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China.
The letter was prompted by an editorial published by The Washington Post questioning the role of the WIV research lab in the pandemic. The lab is partially funded with U.S. tax dollars.
The tax funds were made available to WIV through NIH subgrants from the nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance.
“Recently, The Washington Post, which had regularly dismissed the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted from a lab leak at WIV, finally published an editorial board column embracing the lab leak hypothesis calling for an investigation into the research lab that was funded in part with U.S. tax dollars from NIH,” wrote the lawmakers.
U.S. intelligence has said that the P4 lab at the WIV could be the source of the virus. A fact sheet released by the U.S. State Department last month stated that it “had reason to believe” several researchers at the institute fell ill with COVID-19-like symptoms in the autumn of 2019. A researcher at the institute has denied the claim, saying there was “zero infection” among lab staff and students.
A recent report by a team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts who visited Wuhan did not rule out the possibility that the virus was leaked from the P4 lab, although it said that such an event was “extremely unlikely.” Last week, WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus suggested that more research was needed to study the different theories about the origin of the virus.
The Republican’s letter pointed to a growing number of experts, including those at the State Department, who believe that the pandemic, which has killed more than half a million Americans and almost 2.5 million people worldwide, might have been caused by CCP-led coronavirus research at the WIV gone wrong.
The lawmakers criticized the federal health agency for supporting the CCP-controlled Wuhan lab.
“The NIH, unfortunately, has played a major role in supporting WIV and this treacherous research and the promotion of spurious claims dismissing the NIH-funded lab’s potential role in the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter reads.
The NIH did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the letter from The Epoch Times.
The 28 lawmakers want answers to a set of questions related to how much the NIH knew about coronavirus research being conducted by the WIV.
They specifically want to know if and when the NIH has been made aware of any such risks and whether the NIH was “briefed on the concerns raised by the State Department in 2018 about the potential pandemic risk?”
The lawmakers also shared their concern about taxpayer monies going to China’s WIV.
“In light of all this, we are gravely concerned about the NIH’s relationship with both EcoHealth and WIV, and the agency’s handling of allegations that the COVID-19 pandemic was potentially caused by an NIH-funded laboratory at WIV. We also are alarmed that WIV is eligible to receive additional funding from the NIH through 2024,” the letter states.
The Republicans are demanding a prompt and thorough investigation into the NIH response to biosafety concerns at the WIV.
Frank Fang contributed to this report.