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‘For Safety of Citizens Worldwide’: HHS Suspends Government Funding for EcoHealth Alliance



The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today suspended all funding for EcoHealth Alliance and proposed barring the organization from future government contracts or funding.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded nonprofit was performing gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the COVID-19 outbreak and has been at the center of questions about a possible “lab leak” that may have caused the pandemic.

Ongoing funding will end and the organization will be ineligible to receive any further funding from the U.S. government. The funding suspension will remain in effect until the debarment proceedings are complete.

Debarment is the long-term prohibition of receiving federal funds. It is the primary public mechanism that “protects the federal government from fraud, waste and abuse by using a number of tools to avoid doing business with non-responsible actors,” according to the U.S. General Services Administration.

The move to cut EcoHealth’s funding comes two weeks after a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the COVID-19 pandemic called for a criminal investigation into Peter Daszak, Ph.D., president of EcoHealth, and issued a report calling for a permanent end to government funding for the organization, which has ties to the Wuhan Institute.

During the Republican-led House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic May 1 hearing, Republican and Democrat representatives explicitly called for defunding EcoHealth Alliance, which Daszak said receives about $16 million in government grants annually.

“This should have happened years ago, and should be the first step in holding scientists accountable for dangerous NIH-funded virus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” investigative journalist Paul D. Thacker, who has covered this topic extensively, told The Defender



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