WASHINGTON — Representative Scott Franklin (FL-15), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement in response to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) letter confirming that American taxpayer dollars were used to fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology:
“I was deeply disturbed to learn that American taxpayer money was used to fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. Equally troubling is that it appears that the NIH was lied to about dangerous coronavirus experiments being conducted at the lab in clear violation of the terms of the grant in question.
“The American people trust Congress and our government to spend taxpayer money wisely on initiatives that promote our national health—not risky experiments that could kill innocent people. China has engaged in deceptive practices and outright lies regarding the origins of the COVID-19 virus since the pandemic began. To now learn that EcoHealth Alliance, a taxpayer-funded NGO, likely deceived the NIH is truly alarming.
“A critical function of Congress is providing oversight of federal agencies like the NIH. The Democratic leadership of this committee has failed to perform that oversight in this instance. I am grateful to Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) and the minority committee staff for bringing this information to light while our Democrat colleagues continue to pursue ridiculous partisan causes. NIH Director Frances Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci must brief Congress immediately on what they knew about this devious cover-up.”
In response to Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Dr. Lawrence Tabak of the NIH sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform confirming that EcoHealth Alliance, Inc., a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology conducted gain-of-function research on coronaviruses in China with U.S. taxpayer dollars. By doing so, EcoHealth violated the terms of their grant by not reporting these experiments. Furthermore, NIH potentially misled the Committee about its knowledge of EcoHealth’s malfeasance.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, gain-of-function research “improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease, help define the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, thereby enabling assessment of the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents, informing public health and preparedness efforts, and furthering medical countermeasure development.”