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Joni Ernst: Investigation Proves Group that Funneled Tax Dollars into Chinese Labs Can’t Be Trusted with Taxpayer Money – or Bats

Nearly two years ago, I requested an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) into EcoHealth Alliance —the shady organization that funneled taxpayer money into China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to conduct risky research on coronaviruses.


The investigation came after we learned that EcoHealth was spending our tax dollars on dangerous experiments in Wuhan, China, and was not disclosing information about those projects to the public, as required by law.


Since the world learned of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and the role EcoHealth Alliance might have played in a potential lab leak, the group has received more than $40 million. Just last month, the Biden administration awarded the group $3 million out of the Pentagon's budget.


Finally, this week, HHS released their investigation. The findings were damning.


The OIG found EcoHealth, the WIV, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were all negligent. First and foremost, EcoHealth did not immediately notify NIH when a coronavirus was enhanced to become more lethal, which is required by law. And when the group finally did report it, NIH did not quickly act to have the pathogen reviewed for pandemic potential.


To no one’s surprise, China’s WIV refused to turn over information about the coronavirus experiments being conducted in its labs—with taxpayer dollars—that NIH repeatedly requested, leaving even more unanswered questions. And finally, EcoHealth misspent tens of thousands of tax dollars on bonuses, junkets, and other unallowable costs.


In terms of recommendations, the report suggests that the WIV should be permanently barred from receiving U.S. taxpayer dollars —something Americans knew when concerns first arose regarding the origins of COVID-19. The OIG also recommends that EcoHealth return misspent taxpayer money, and the NIH increase oversight of EcoHealth Alliance, and other projects involving potential pandemic pathogens.


While NIH certainly shares in the blame, EcoHealth is ultimately at fault for failing to tell the world what was really going on at China’s Wuhan Institute and should be permanently barred from receiving taxpayer dollars. EcoHealth is guilty of either complacency or cover-up—or maybe a little of both.


EcoHealth was supposed to be searching for coronaviruses that could pose a threat to humans. But the virus might have been hiding in plain sight, created right in their own lab experiments! The organization was paid millions, promising their hunt for bat viruses would protect the world from a pandemic. Well, sure enough, the world got a pandemic, but EcoHealth keeps getting millions.


Folks, we CANNOT afford any more of EcoHealth Alliance’s “prevention” efforts. Washington is looking for ways to trim spending—let’s start by cutting the millions of dollars flowing to EcoHealth’s batty experiments.