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US government suspends funding for virus research group at center of Covid-19 origin controversy

US government suspends funding for virus research group at center of Covid-19 origin controversy



The US Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday suspended funding for EcoHealth Alliance, a virus research organization linked to the controversy over the origins of the virus that causes Covid-19. The agency also proposed that the group would be barred from receiving federal funds in the future, perhaps for years.

Before the emergence of Covid-19, a US government grant to EcoHealth had funded studies of bat coronaviruses at the laboratory in Wuhan, China. Although U.S.-funded research at the lab was not related to the pandemic, the United States suspended funding for EcoHealth in 2020. The grant was later reinstated. US funding for the Wuhan lab has since been blocked.

In a letter to the EcoHealth Alliance and its president, Dr. Peter Daszak, HHS lists 30 pieces of information, some dating back to 2013, to support its decision. HHS said in a memo that EcoHealth failed to adequately monitor the growth of the virus during experiments conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. notify the National Institutes of Health that viruses studied there appear to be growing beyond the allowable thresholds set in a grant or provide requested information in a timely manner.

HHS believes that there is adequate evidence in the record for this cause of debarment and that immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest, wrote Henrietta Brisbon, HHS suspension and debarment manager , in the letter.

In a statement, an EcoHealth Alliance spokesperson said the organization was disappointed by HHS's decision today and that we would challenge the proposed exclusion. We strongly disagree with the decision and will present evidence to refute each of these allegations and to show that NIH's continued support of EcoHealthAlliance is in the public interest.

The AnHHS Office of Inspector General report last year found that despite potential risks related to research done with the EcoHealth grant, the group was late in reporting information and the NIH n had not followed up. EcoHealth Alliance said it was unable to access the NIH reporting system due to technical issues, but in a new HHS action memo it says a forensic report found the group was never excluded from the system.

Earlier this month, House lawmakers questioned Daszak about EcoHealth's record on research and safety, including at the Wuhan lab. In a statement Wednesday, Brad Wenstrup, the Ohio Republican who chairs the House special oversight subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic, said his investigation into EcoHealth and the origins of Covid-19 fell short of be completed.

The origin of the virus that causes Covid-19 continues to be the subject of research and investigation by scientists, intelligence officials and lawmakers. Previous scientific studies have suggested that the virus that causes Covid-19 likely emerged naturally in a Wuhan seafood market, but they have not identified a natural origin. specific origin. The US intelligence community has maintained the plausibility that Covid-19 originated in a laboratory or in nature.




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