Pentagon gave millions to EcoHealth Alliance for Wuhan lab

The Defense Department doled out millions of {dollars} to the same nonprofit that funneled federal grant cash to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus analysis — with a lot of the Pentagon cash going towards murky analysis on countering organic weapons.

New York City-based EcoHealth Alliance has already come below scrutiny for redirecting funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Chinese lab, from the place many imagine COVID-19 leaked to set off the worst pandemic in a century.

But federal spending knowledge reveals that EcoHealth has a protracted and worthwhile relationship with the Pentagon, receiving $41.91 million in awards since fiscal yr 2008. That’s greater than thrice the next-largest quantity awarded to it by some other company over the identical interval ($13.17 million from the Department of Health and Human Services).

Of the $41.91 million, $37.61 million was awarded to EcoHealth Alliance by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which describes its mission as “to protect the United States and its allies by enabling the DoD and international partners to detect, deter, and defeat WMD and threat networks.”

Beginning in fiscal yr 2014, the DTRA started awarding funding to EcoHealth for a piece program labeled “Scientific Research – Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction”. After three straight years during which awards have been fewer than $1 million, the quantities despatched to this system jumped significantly. In fiscal yr 2017, $2.34 million of the $2.91 million EcoHealth acquired from DTRA went towards the weapons analysis. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, one hundred pc of DTRA’s awards to EcoHealth went towards this system — $4.24 million, $2.99 million, and an eye-popping $21.33 million, respectively.

Researchers work in a lab of Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017.
EcoHealth Alliance has come below scrutiny for redirecting funds from the NIH to Wuhan Institute of Virology.
CharacteristicChina through AP Images

The last whole: $33.85 million — 90 p.c of EcoHealth’s awards from DTRA and 81 p.c of its whole Pentagon awards — over seven years for a single program.

By comparability, emails obtained earlier this month by the conservative group Judicial Watch discovered that EcoHealth was allotted roughly $7.5 million over 11 years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to perform its examine “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence”. The Wuhan Institute of Virology was to have acquired around $1.5 million of that sum earlier than the Trump administration pulled the plug on the grant in April of final yr.

The DTRA awards to EcoHealth Alliance could also be small in contrast to the $700 billion Pentagon price range, however in accordance to Dr. Richard Ebright, “by the standards of biomedical research, it is an enormous sum.”

Ebright, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University and lab director on the faculty’s Waksman Institute of Microbiology, advised the Post that such awards from the protection and intelligence communities are distributed “outside the normal processes” for such analysis, with no transparency and oversight past what might be offered by members of Congress.

In this shadowy, near-impenetrable world, Ebright defined, EcoHealth acts as certainly one of many “funding subcontractors” directing cash from a “blank check written by [government] program officers who often go on to be employed” by the identical non-profits to whom they as soon as doled out taxpayer money.

Chinese State Media CCTV offered a rare glimpse inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology P4 Lab in February
Chinese State Media CCTV supplied a uncommon glimpse contained in the Wuhan Institute of Virology P4 Lab in February.
CCTV

Furthermore, although it’s unattainable to decide whether or not any of the $33.85 million went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology or different labs in China, Ebright famous “almost all” of such analysis takes place outdoors the United States out of what he known as an “ill-conceived” perception the federal government is ready to maintain tabs on the work if it immediately funds it.

The Pentagon didn’t reply to the Post’s request for touch upon its awards to EcoHealth Alliance. The DTRA didn’t reply to requests for extra details about the “Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction” analysis program. Calls and emails to EcoHealth Alliance requesting remark additionally went unanswered.

EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak has saved a low profile in current months. Earlier this yr, he reportedly blew off questions from House Republicans in regards to the group’s ties to the Wuhan lab, what data the nonprofit had in regards to the lab’s analysis on bat viruses and the lab’s virus database. Last week, the UN-backed fee inspecting the origins of the pandemic quietly famous on its web site that Daszak had been “recused from Commission work on the origins of the pandemic.”

A view of the P4 lab inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology is seen after a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan in China's Hubei province on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.
Most of the cash from the Pentagon was going towards murky analysis on countering organic weapons.
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The lack of know-how in regards to the relationship between the Pentagon and EcoHealth Alliance, in addition to EcoHealth’s established ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, have made some Republican lawmakers sit up and take discover.

“EcoHealth Alliance – a group that knowingly misled the world about what may have happened in Wuhan, China—should not receive another dime from taxpayers until it fully complies with the law and answers questions about what was really going on at the Wuhan Institute,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) advised the Post in a press release final week.

“I plan to offer an amendment to the Senate’s annual defense bill that would immediately cut off and prohibit additional funding from DOD to EcoHealth until the group provides answers about their work with Communist China’s Wuhan Institute, including an itemized breakdown of how much U.S. taxpayer money was paid to the lab.”

For now, the movement of presidency cash to EcoHealth Alliance has slowed to a trickle. After receiving $24.8 million in awards in fiscal yr 2020 — the overwhelming majority of it because the $21.33 million award from DTRA — the non-profit has been awarded simply $1.51 million this fiscal yr, all from the Department of Health and Human Services.

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