May 14, 2021

Reschenthaler Uncovers $1.1 Million in Taxpayer Funding Sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) recently uncovered $1.1 million in Obama-era taxpayer funding funneled to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) through the EcoHealth Alliance. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded this funding. The WIV is a Chinese Communist Party lab with ties to Chinese military research and a suspected origin site of COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2021, Reschenthaler sent a letter to former Acting USAID Administrator Gloria Steele requesting information on grant funding awarded to the EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit based in New York City.


"I find it deeply disturbing that American taxpayers footed the bill for over $1 million to support dangerous and potentially deadly research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory with ties to the Chinese Communist Party and military biological research," said Reschenthaler. "The American people deserve to know why their hard-earned tax dollars went to a foreign lab that has a history of safety concerns, engages in risky experiments, and had a possible role in the origins of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. I call on Congress to pass my Defund EcoHealth Alliance Act to cut the flow of federal dollars to risky experiments."


According to published research and a House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority report, the researchers used this funding for a study that 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 could infect human airways by binding to the ACE2.


Additionally, the WIV received nearly $600,000 of funding from EcoHealth Alliance through grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Unfortunately, it's possible U.S. taxpayers funded the WIV on other occasions. According to a New York Magazine article, U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency grants awarded to EcoHealth Alliance funded some of the WIV research.


In February 2021, Congressman Reschenthaler introduced H.R. 591, the Defund EcoHealth Alliance Act, which prohibits federal funding to the EcoHealth Alliance.


Background on USAID funding to the WIV Funding:

  • Between October 2009 and May 2019, USAID provided a total of $1.1 million to the EcoHealth Alliance for a sub-agreement with the WIV.
  • The funding went toward advancing research on viruses that could pose harm to human and animal health.
  • According to USAID, they never authorized this funding for GOF research at WIV.
  • In October of 2014, the Obama Administration paused GOF research activities and funding, and this research team received a letter requesting a voluntary pause of its research.
  • In 2019, the Trump Administration stopped USAID's work on this project.


Background on EcoHealth Alliance:

  • According to federal government data, EcoHealth received tens of millions in federal research dollars.
  • EcoHealth has partnered with the WIV since 2004.
  • In February 2020, EcoHealth President Peter Daszak led an unsubstantiated letter denying the possibility of COVID-19 originating in a lab.
  • Daszak 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 WIV:

  • The Chinese Communist Party directly runs the WIV and manages the Biosafety Level IV (BSL-4) laboratory.
  • After the outbreak of COVID-19, the CCP replaced the party official in charge of the WIV with a top biowarfare expert, Major General Chen Wei.
  • 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.
  • Since at least 2017, the WIV engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments with the Chinese military.