GOP House Calls for Criminal Investigation into Dr. Daszak

House Republicans are calling for the president of the nongovernmental research firm EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak, to be stripped of his medical license and be criminally investigated for his involvement in the origin of SARS-CoV-2.

by Gabrielle Etzel,, May 1, 2024

The demand, made in a bombshell interim report published on Wednesday, comes hours before Daszak is scheduled to testify before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic to speak regarding his role in overseeing a controversial research project on novel coronaviruses in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The subcommittee alleged that Daszak used National Institutes of Health funding to conduct gain-of-function research on novel coronaviruses, making them more dangerous by genetically manipulating virus strains to make the virus more transmissible among humans.

“EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak is not a good steward of U.S. taxpayer dollars and should never again receive funding from the U.S. taxpayer,” subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that Daszak and his organization “willfully violated the terms of a multimillion-dollar NIH grant, and placed U.S. national security at risk.”

Wenstrup characterized Daszak’s actions as “blatant contempt for the American people.”

EcoHealth Alliance previously told the Washington Examiner that its organization has never engaged in gain-of-function research, which was prohibited by federal law between 2014 and 2018.

A spokesperson for EcoHealth Alliance said the organization did not receive a copy of the subcommittee’s report until it was publicly released Wednesday morning. The spokesperson also said Daszak would answer the questions of the subcommittee during the public hearing.

The Republican report noted that through interviews with numerous scientists, the definition of gain-of-function “could mean something completely different to one person in that field than to another person simply using the term.” 

The subcommittee is holding Daszak and EcoHealth to the definition published by the NIH in October 2021, classifying gain-of-function as “a type of research that modifies a biological agent so as that it confers a new or enhanced activity to that agent.”

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The report further noted that EcoHealth violated the terms of its NIH grant by failing to report possibly dangerous research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to the agency. EcoHealth is also accused of violating the grant by failing to submit a required research update report until nearly two years after the deadline.

Daszak is also accused of manipulating and omitting essential information in his reporting to the NIH to get his grant for research in Wuhan reinstated by the agency. The grant in question was paused by the Trump administration in July 2020 but was reinstated in 2023 after Daszak told Biden administration officials that there were strains of SARS-CoV viruses frozen in the WIV that had not been tested by EcoHealth.

The top Democrat on the subcommittee, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), said in a statement that although he believes Republicans have politicized the origins investigation, he concurs that Daszak’s actions have drawn warranted suspicion. 

“Internal documents and testimony do suggest that Dr. Daszak and EHA potentially misled federal government on multiple occasions in both their transparency obligations and reporting requirements as recipients of federal grant funding — raising serious questions about their overall commitment to the responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollar,” Ruiz said in a press statement.

Ruiz does not find that the evidence of EcoHealth’s alleged misconduct supports the accusation that SARS-CoV-2 was created at the WIV, saying that the viruses created by EcoHealth Alliance are too genetically different to be immediately related.

When asked about the decision to publish the recommendations prior to the public hearing, a spokesperson for the Republicans told the Washington Examiner that the subcommittee was confident the evidence against Daszak would be corroborated in the public questioning.

“Given the volume of evidence and testimony secured, the SSCP has more than enough evidence to support the report’s findings,” the spokesperson said. “Today’s hearing is not only an opportunity for the public to hear directly from the president of EcoHealth, but is an important piece in our investigation into EcoHealth which still continues.”

The report recommended that the Department of Justice evaluate whether Daszak violated any federal laws and urged the Department of Health and Human Services to initiate a suspension and debarment of Daszak’s medical licenses.

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