Three Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee want answers to dozens of deeply probing questions they posed to the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance about its relationship with China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The answers to the questions could hold the key to determining the origin of the CCP virus—also known as the novel coronavirus—which has killed more than half a million Americans since February 2020.
Chinese officials insist the disease spread to humans from bats via raw meat sold in an open-air market not far from the lab. Multiple U.S. and other officials and experts in government and the public health sector, however, think the contagion may have been engineered in and released either by accident or otherwise from the lab, which is closely linked to the Chinese military and has benefited from U.S. government funding.
Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.), the ranking Republican on the panel, was joined by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) in signing the 10-page, single-spaced April 16 letter that addressed 34 detailed questions to Dr. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based medical research nonprofit group.
The questions posed by the three Republicans were prefaced by this statement:
“We write to request information and documents from EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) related to the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including possible pandemic links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV),” the letter says.
“EHA has an extensive history with research into bat coronaviruses in China, some of which are presumed progenitors of SARS CoV-2. In addition, EHA has partnered with the WIV in this area of research, and WIV lists EHA as one of its eight international partners, and the only one in the U.S.
“Further, for several years, EHA has provided some of its National Institutes of Health (NIH) federal funding to WIV as a federal sub-award recipient for bat coronavirus research to conduct high-quality testing, sequencing, field sample analyses, sample storage and testing, and collaboration on scientific publications and programmatic reporting. It has been reported that EHA’s China bat research project was funded entirely through NIH awards.”
Daszak’s nonprofit has received nearly $13 million under 37 separate federal contract actions since 2008, as well as more than $206 million under 82 separate grants since the same year, according to data compiled by USASpending.gov.
The awarding agencies have included the Department of Defense (DoD), National Science Foundation, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of the Interior (DoI), and Department of Agriculture (DoA).
Daszak’s nonprofit has done research with the Wuhan lab since at least 2003, according to the GOP letter, much of it focused on coronaviruses and captured in a highly secretive database that the letter said “is estimated to contain [information on] 500 coronaviruses identified by EHA, and at least 100 unpublished sequences of bat beta coronaviruses that are relevant to the investigation of the SARS-CoV-2 origin.”
Daszak has been at the center of a continuing controversy about the origins of the sometimes deadly virus since it first began its global spread.
Almost as soon as deaths due to the virus began being reported in the United States and Europe in early 2020, questions were raised about the Wuhan lab’s safety record and whether it might have been responsible in some way for the outbreak. But the highly respected British medical journal The Lancet published a Feb. 18, 2020, letter signed by 27 prominent public health officials and scientists, including Daszak, that dismissed such questions as “conspiracy theory” thinking.
Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know in November 2020 via public information requests revealed that Daszak drafted the Lancet letter and was a prime mover in its composition and publication. The letter only cited two studies as evidence for its conclusion—both by EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan lab.
The GOP letter-writers alluded to the Lancet letter but pointed out that “there is substantial and increasing support from the international scientific community and public health experts, including from the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros, for further investigation into COVID origins, including the possibility of a lab leak.”
Neither the communications office of the nonprofit nor Daszak immediately responded to requests from The Epoch Times for comment.
An aide to Republicans on the House committee told The Epoch Times that EcoHealth Alliance has until May 17 to respond. The aide declined to say whether there have been requests to extend the deadline.
“There is no response yet. However, we expect that as an organization with a stated mission of preventing pandemics, they will be interested in cooperating with our request to help with the overall effort to get a transparent, independent, and scientific, comprehensive investigation on how this pandemic started,” the aide said.
In the Senate, GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana have introduced legislation directing President Joe Biden to declassify information collected by U.S. intelligence on the origins of the virus.
“For over a year, anyone asking questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology has been branded as a conspiracy theorist. The world needs to know if this pandemic was the product of negligence at the Wuhan lab, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has done everything it can to block a credible investigation,” Hawley said in a statement announcing the proposal.
“That’s why the Biden administration must declassify what it knows about the Wuhan lab and Beijing’s attempts to cover up the origin of the pandemic,” Hawley stated.
Congressional correspondent Mark Tapscott may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org