Twenty-eight Republicans on Tuesday sent a letter to Health and Human Services' (HHS) Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm asking for an investigation into the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
According to the legislators, there is sufficient evidence calling for an independent investigation into whether or not COVID-19 was the result of a lab leak at the WIV. The members of Congress have concerns about taxpayer funds partially funding the WIV's research.
"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 states.
The 28 members accuse NIH Director Francis Collins of "secretively funnel[ing]" taxpayer funds to "WIV's reckless coronavirus experiments through grants awarded to the U.S.-based EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. The Pentagon also apparently funded WIV via a grant to EcoHealth."
In the letter, the Republicans say EcoHealth Alliance's president, Peter Daszak, slammed the United States government for investigating whether or not the Wuhan coronavirus started in a lab at 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," the letter states. "We also are alarmed that WIV is eligible to receive additional funding from the NIH through 2024."
These are the eight questions the members of Congress would like answers to:
1. When was the NIH first aware that coronavirus experiments were being conducted at WIV with taxpayer funds (via EcoHealth Alliance or otherwise)?
2. Did NIH officials review WIV’s coronavirus experiments to assess compliance with Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight (P3CO) guidelines?
3. When was the NIH first aware of biosafety or other concerns at WIV?
4. Was the NIH briefed on the concerns raised by the State Department in 2018 about the potential pandemic risk of WIV’s research?
5. Did Dr. Collins or other NIH officials communicate with EcoHealth Alliance and/or WIV to coordinate responses to lab leak allegations?
6. When does WIV‘s current eligibility to receive NIH funding expire?
7. Is WIV currently receiving any NIH support directly or indirectly?
8. How much NIH funding - directly or indirectly - has WIV received from the NIH including grants, sub-grants, and other funding sources.
The letter was signed by Scott Perry (PA), Nancy Mace (SC), Bill Posey (FL), Rick Crawford (AR), Greg Steube (FL), Jody Hice (GA), Jeff Duncan (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Tom Tiffany (WI), Ronny Jackson (TX), Troy Balderson (OH), Pete Sessions (TX), Andy Biggs (AZ), Diana Harshbarger (TN), Elise Stefanik (NY), Chip Roy (TX), Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Daniel Webster (FL), Ted Budd (NC), Austin Scott (GA), Ralph Norman (SC), Dan Newhouse (WA), Dan Crenshaw (TX), Guy Reschenthaler (PA), Louie Gohmert (TX) and Ken Buck (CO).
Below is the full letter: