Chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has been at the center of a controversy involving a nonprofit group that reportedly sent U.S. taxpayer money — with the backing of the National Institutes of Health — to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China to fund controversial coronavirus research.
That group, EcoHealth Alliance, is back in the news after the deputy director of the NIH apparently revealed additional grant violations.
“A history of failure to comply”
According to the Washington Examiner, Michael Lauer sent his letter to the nonprofit group and its contents were subsequently made public by Republican members of the House Oversight Committee.
The NIH official wrote that EcoHealth Alliance has “demonstrated a history of failure to comply with several elements of the terms and conditions of grant awards not only for these active awards, but also for the suspended award.”
As the Examiner went on to explain, Lauer cited a number of violations, including artificially high charges for “facilities and administrative” costs associated with the Wuhan lab where a growing number of experts believe COVID-19 might have originated.
Despite the organization’s “history of failure to comply,” however, the NIH did not impose any sanctions on EcoHealth Alliance and reportedly even continues to send funding to the nonprofit group.
Earlier reports signaled that roughly $600,000 in U.S. taxpayer funds were funneled through the group and into the virology lab in China.
Republicans apply increased pressure on Fauci
While it remains unclear whether the resulting research was in any way responsible for the outbreak of the ongoing pandemic, it appears that the funding was conducted without following the federal government’s vetting process for so-called gain-of-function testing.
For his part, Fauci has denied that any such research took place using taxpayer money and dismissed the idea that the research led to the release of COVID-19.
The longtime director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease has faced mounting criticism from Republicans over the course of the pandemic, though a Democratic majority on Capitol Hill has served to insulate him to some extent from any serious investigations.
Nevertheless, GOP lawmakers confronted Fauci this week during a Senate committee hearing. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for example, asserted that the doctor has “politically attacked” those who disagree with his stance on pandemic-related matters.
Republicans appear poised to regain control of one or both congressional chambers after the upcoming midterm elections, which would give them more authority to get to the bottom of this complex issue.