February 01, 2021

Reschenthaler Introduces Bill to Defund EcoHealth Alliance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) announced on Fox News' "The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton" that he recently introduced the Defund EcoHealth Alliance Act (H.R. 591). This legislation prohibits EcoHealth Alliance, an organization that sent American taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a suspected epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, from receiving federal funding. Further, the bill requires the U.S. Government Accountability Office to study and report on the amount of federal grant funding provided to the WIV, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and the People's Republic of China through EcoHealth Alliance.

"It is unconscionable that EcoHealth Alliance sent U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a facility linked to military biological research and the Chinese Communist Party," said Congressman Reschenthaler. "By cutting off their federal funding, this legislation will help ensure Americans' hard-earned money is no longer funding dangerous experimentation in foreign labs with a track record of safety concerns and run by the military of our adversaries."

Background on EcoHealth Alliance, Inc

According to federal government data, EcoHealth Alliance has received tens of millions in federal research dollars. In 2014, EcoHealth Alliance received an award for more than $3 million in grant funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to study the risk of bat coronavirus emergence.

The WIV received approximately $598,500 from EcoHealth Alliance for 2015 through 2019 from this funding stream. In 2019, the grant was reauthorized for $3.7 million over five years. In July of 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that the National Institute of Health (NIH) paused grant activities for this NIAID grant awarded to EcoHealth, assessing that the WIV did not meet safety requirements under the grant funding, and EcoHealth Alliance failed to meet obligations to monitor the WIV.

In a 2017 research paper, EcoHealth and WIV researchers demonstrated their ability to modify a coronavirus found from bats in China and efficiently bind their man-made virus to the human ACE2-expressing cells. Separately, EcoHealth Alliance funded a 2015 research project through a USAID grant between the WIV and U.S. researchers on bat coronaviruses.

According to the House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority report on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, this project utilized gain-of-function (GOF) research to create a hybrid, man-made virus by inserting a spiked protein from a wild coronavirus into a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone, which was able to infect human airways by binding to the ACE2. In October of 2014, the Obama Administration paused gain of function (GOF) research activities and funding, and this research team received a letter requesting a voluntary pause of its research.

Unfortunately, these examples might not have been isolated incidents of the U.S. taxpayer funding the WIV. According to Nicholas Baker's article in New York Magazine, some of the WIV research was funded through U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency grants awarded to EcoHealth Alliance.

In April 2020, Congressman Reschenthaler sent a letter to the Department of Defense (DOD) inquiring into the millions of DOD funding dollars that went to EcoHealth Alliance and whether any of them were sent to the WIV or other entities in China.

The research funded by these specific projects are not identical matches to the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing deaths and illness today, but the WIV continued similar research in the years following these publications, and lab accidents are not an uncommon phenomenon in China.

In February 2020, the head of EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak, led an unsubstantiated letter denying the possibility of COVID-19 originating in a lab. He went so far as to condemn any alternative explanation to his natural origins narrative, such as a lab accident at nearby WIV, as "conspiracy theory."

Background on Wuhan Institute of Virology

The Chinese Communist Party directly runs the WIV and manages the Biosafety Level IV (BSL-4) laboratory. Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the fall of 2019, the CCP replaced the party official in charge of the WIV with China's top biowarfare expert, Major General Chen Wei. To this date, the CCP has denied international investigators access to the WIV and their research samples.

In 2018, two State Department cables raised concerns regarding safety and management weaknesses at the WIV. Scientists at the WIV noted "a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory."

According to a January 15, 2021 State Department press release, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced several researchers inside the WIV became sick with COVID-19 like symptoms in the fall of 2019. Additionally, since at least 2017, the WIV engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments with the Chinese military.