The Wuhan Institute of Virology in China has been the subject of widespread speculation that it was where COVID-19 originated.
Now, House Republicans are demanding answers from U.S. officials regarding why American taxpayers provided funding to the lab.
According to the Daily Caller, the GOP lawmakers are specifically requesting information from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins.
The laboratory in Wuhan, China, has long been a site where scientists have studied bat coronaviruses. Recent reports suggest controversial gain-of-function research, which can increase the communicability of a virus, was also taking place at the institute.
Between 2014 and 2019, the lab reportedly received roughly $600,000 in U.S. taxpayer funding via the EcoHealth Alliance and with the approval of the NAID and the NIH. Lawmakers are now hoping to learn more about these contributions.
Republicans serving on the House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to Collins and Fauci this week that included a number of requests for information.
The letter sought all communications between the NIH, WIV, and EcoHealth Alliance regarding the funding as well as documents resulting from any U.S. government inspection of the Chinese lab. Lawmakers also requested Fauci’s unredacted emails.
Seven Member Rule
GOP lawmakers have made similar requests in the past, but their most recent letter explained that Fauci has thus far refused to comply.
“On May 28, 2021, we wrote to you requesting information regarding a 2014 grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. (EcoHealth) that was subsequently awarded to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV),” the letter explained. “You failed to respond.”
The committee members are now invoking the so-called Seven Member Rule, which declares that if seven members of the oversight panel make a request of an executive agency, it must comply by submitting “any information requested of it related to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee.”
As the letter states, Fauci and Collins have been given until July 29 to respond with the requested documents. They have also been asked to provide a briefing by July 22.
It is unclear whether the two officials will voluntarily comply with the latest request. Nether has made a public statement on the matter as of this writing.