Joni Ernst Demands Biden Admin Confirm Halt Of Federal Funding To Org Linked To COVID Lab

Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst called on the Biden administration in a letter on Wednesday to confirm that federal funding has been cut for the EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) organization, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Biden administration in May suspended funding for EcoHealth, which collected grants from the U.S. government and funneled funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese lab suspected to be the origin point of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ernst sent the letter to various administration agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to verify that taxpayer funding to EcoHealth had been cut and demanded clarification on whether the NIH has access to data the organization collected using taxpayer dollars.

“Despite repeated requests from NIH, EHA never provided laboratory notebooks and files from the taxpayer-funded research conducted on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which could hold vital clues to understanding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ernst wrote in the letter to NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli. “All information related to EHA’s current experiments not currently in your custody needs to be collected and every precaution should be taken to ensure the pathogens in the group’s possession are documented and prevented from leaking. What happened in Wuhan should never be allowed to happen anywhere else ever again.”

EcoHealth had been defunded after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that the organization failed “to adequately monitor the virus growth in WIV’s experiments” and did not “notify the NIH that the WIV viruses appeared to grow beyond permissible thresholds under the grant’s terms and conditions.”

Ernst also sent the letter to HHS, the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and U.S. Agency for International Development, all agencies who have previously provided funding to EcoHealth, her office told the DCNF. She requested a list of active grants and contracts previously awarded to the organization, as well as information on whether the agencies have access to the organization’s experimental data related to bat viruses and pathogens.

EcoHealth fell under scrutiny from critics and lawmakers after revelations that the organization had provided funding to the Wuhan Institute for experimental research on the coronavirus strain in bats. The Wuhan Institute is believed to be the ground-zero location for the emergence of the coronavirus and subsequent global pandemic in 2020.

Lawmakers accused EcoHealth Director Peter Daszak during a May congressional hearing of lying to the federal government to ensure the organization received federal funding, which Daszak has denied. Daszak was also accused of wasting federal funds on projects and having closer ties to the Wuhan Institute than he previously disclosed.

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