Members invoke authority requiring the agencies to provide the information requested
WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Republican lawmakers pressed Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, (NIAID), about a grant awarded to EcoHealth Alliance, which then awarded taxpayer funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China to study bat coronaviruses. The Republican lawmakers are invoking a unique statutory authority that requires executive agencies to provide any information to the committee when requested by any seven members of the committee.
“The relationship between the NIH, the WIV, and EcoHealth raises serious questions about use of taxpayer dollars for gain-of-function research and when U.S. health officials became aware of the WIV’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health community—including the NIH—and the American people deserve the truth. The truth will enable American public health officials to prevent and minimize the effects of future global pandemics,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.
In May 2021, Ranking Member Comer and House Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) called on NIH and NIAID to provide information about the questionable grant but the agencies failed to respond. Since the initial request, thousands of pages of Dr. Fauci’s emails released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal he knew early on about the possibility of a lab leak and gain-of-function coronavirus research being conducted with taxpayer funds. The emails also show the CEO of EcoHealth Alliance pressured Dr. Fauci to rebuke the theory COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan lab. In June, Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Republicans held a forum where expert witnesses testified the virus likely originated from the Wuhan lab and was manipulated using gain-of-function research.
In the letter to Drs. Collins and Fauci, the Republican lawmakers renew their request for all documents and communications between the NIH, WIV, and EcoHealth Alliance regarding the grant, as well as those resulting from any U.S. government-led inspection of the WIV arranged by EcoHealth Alliance. They also call for Dr. Fauci’s unredacted emails to be produced to the committee.
The full text of the letter can be found here.