The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic announced recommendations for official disbarment and a criminal investigation for Eco Health Alliance President Peter Daszak. The key findings from the committee’s report are that the NIAID and NIH granted funds to Daszak’s NGO to do dangerous gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China. 

The committee has been investigating the origins of COVID-19 and haven’t conclusively determined the lab-leak or natural origins theory. However, many sources and evidence points to a lab origin for the virus. The implication is that COVID-19 started with dangerous research that was funded by the U.S. taxpayers and studied in Wuhan. The lab-leak theory was often cited as a conspiracy theory until more recently when Anthony Fauci, Francis Collins, and now Peter Daszak have all admitted that a lab leak origin for the virus is plausible. 

Regardless of the true origin of the virus, Daszak failed to follow the necessary procedures and reporting requirements for the grant that was provided by the NIH. Chairman Brad Wenstrup said “EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak is not a good steward of U.S. taxpayer dollars and should never again receive funding from the U.S. taxpayer. Dr. Daszak and his organization conducted dangerous gain-of-function research at the WIV, willfully violated the terms of a multi-million-dollar NIH grant, and placed U.S. national security at risk. This blatant contempt for the American people is reprehensible. It is imperative to establish higher standards of oversight at the NIH. The Select Subcommittee’s detailed and comprehensive report today holds Dr. Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance accountable and sheds light on severe shortcomings in our public health systems,”

The White Coat Waste Project (WCWP) was the first to uncover the nature of the experiments after the launch of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It was revealed that a $3.7 million NIH grant went to EcoHealth Alliance for this research. In 2023,  former NIH Director Lawrence Tabak described the nature of the research, which sounded very similar to the NIH’s definition of gain-of-function research. 

In the years of investigation that have followed and interviews of public health officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci and others have attempted to deny that the research conducted in Wuhan is classified as gain of function. The same day of Tabak’s testimony to Congress, the NIH removed the definition of “gain of function” research from their website. 

Justin Goodman, the Senior Vice President of the WCWP made a call for justice and accountability following the hearing and report released on May 1st. He said:

“As the group that first exposed and ended EcoHealth’s batty boondoggle with the Wuhan animal lab and uncovered damning documents detailing how EcoHealth’s reckless gain-of-function experiments probably infected Patient Zero and prompted the pandemic, we’re glad that Peter Daszak finally had to answer for lying, wasting taxpayers’ money, breaking the law, abusing animals, and threatening public health. It’s high time EcoHealth and Daszak were held accountable because our investigations have documented how they’ve gotten off scot-free so far and raked in $60 million of new taxpayers’ cash just since the pandemic began. Taxpayers have a right to know what really happened in Wuhan and shouldn’t be forced to fund any more of EcoHealth’s wasteful and dangerous virus hunting and animal experimentation. Stop the money. Stop the madness!”

The committee’s recommendations call for the Department of Justice to investigate whether Peter Daszak violated any laws. The document mentions two specific laws, but also says the DOJ should consider any potential law that was violated by Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance. One law is 18 U.S. Code § 1001, which is making false statements to congress. That charge could be up to five years in prison. If the charge involves domestic or international terrorism, the sentence could be up to eight years. 

The other stated law is 31 U.S. Code § 3729, which is making false claims to receive payment from the government. The charge would be a $5,000-$10,000 fine plus three times the amount of damages which the Government sustains. 

During the hearing, all committee members who questioned Daszak were critical of his actions, including his failure to adequately file the reports that would fulfill the requirements of the NIH grant. 

Senator Rand Paul has been critical of Fauci, Collins, and Daszak since information started to be uncovered about the NIH funding of the coronavirus experiments. Senator Paul said the emails certainly point to a cover-up. The emails state that Dr. Fauci “knew” and was working on “damage control.” 

Although the damage control statement is unclear, Paul speculates that Fauci was trying to protect the relationship between the NIH and EcoHealth Alliance. Senator Paul implied that it was clear that Fauci supported the research, knew it was dangerous gain-of-function experiments, and knew that this information would mean he had some responsibility for the outbreak that started the pandemic. That is the alleged cover-up that took place.

Senator Paul rebutted that “there is no published virus that could have been COVID or manipulated to become COVID.” In Daszak’s testimony, he said “of course” China could delete coronavirus sequences and he “does not know” if the Communist Party of China deleted any sequences. 

Regarding the coronavirus samples, Daszak testified, “To the last of my knowledge, they were in the freezers in Wuhan—over 15,000 of them.” The Trump administration ended the NIH grant to EcoHealth Alliance in April 2020, but Daszak was reinstated. 

Dr. Emily Erbelding of the NIAID testified in November that Daszak was reinstated to analyze the coronavirus samples that the U.S. government had paid to have collected. She neglected to ask Daszak where the samples were being stored. It turns out they were being held at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which was already disbarred from participating in research involving U.S. federal grant funding. 

The testimonies seem to paint a picture that Daszak would not have been reinstated had Dr. Erbelding known that the coronavirus sequences were in the possession of WIV. 

Meanwhile, a report from the WCWP found that Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance is still receiving high dollar amounts to conduct research. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) sent $4.1 million to EcoHealth Alliance on April 8, 2024. 

Stunningly, a man who is suspected to have lied under oath has allowed a disbarred lab to have access to as many as 15,000 coronavirus samples. Despite that, his NGO is still receiving millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds. Chairman Wenstrup and the committee call for suspension and debarment proceedings against Daszak and also against his NGO, EcoHealth Alliance. 

The committee’s recommendations include eight points for the federal government. One of those suggestions is that intelligence agencies should review any grants that involve countries of concern, which would certainly include China. 

The committee’s next step is to browse through 30,000 recovered personal emails from Dr. David Morens. Chairman Wenstrup said he expects they will uncover some new information in the emails that wasn’t disclosed during Daszak’s testimony. 

 

Steven Middendorp

Steven Middendorp is an investigative journalist, musician, and teacher. He has been a freelance writer and journalist for over 20 years. More recently, he has focused on issues dealing with corruption and negligence in the judicial system. He is a homesteading hobby farmer who encourages people to grow their own food, eat locally, and care for the land that provides sustenance to the community.

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