HHS cuts off funding suspends scientist at center of lab-leak COVID theory
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Quick Hit:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun debarment proceedings against Dr. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, amid allegations of misconduct related to federal grant funds and gain-of-function research.

Key Details:

  • Official Notification: HHS has suspended Daszak and proposed his debarment, citing violations linked to his role in managing a significant NIH grant.
  • Congressional Scrutiny: The decision follows a Congressional report accusing Daszak of serious missteps in handling gain-of-function research, including bypassing safety moratoriums.
  • Continued Investigations: Further Congressional actions are planned to fully hold Daszak accountable, including potential perjury regarding his grant management and collaborations with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Diving Deeper:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has initiated formal debarment proceedings against Dr. Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance. This action aims to prevent him from accessing future federal funding. On Tuesday, the HHS sent a letter to Daszak notifying him of his suspension and proposed disbarment.

The move by HHS was prompted by a comprehensive report from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. Released three weeks prior, the report provided "extensive evidence" of Daszak’s "contempt for the American people" and "flagrant disregard for the risks associated with gain-of-function research." Notably, it highlights how Daszak and former NIAID Director Anthony Fauci allegedly circumvented a moratorium on this type of research, which had been imposed after a series of bio-safety incidents.

The implications of this research became a point of international concern during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Daszak and Fauci initially dismissing the lab leak theory as a conspiracy. However, Daszak’s role came under closer scrutiny after it was revealed in a statement in The Lancet, that he condemned lab leak suggestions as mere conspiracy theories—a move that influenced global narrative and media coverage during critical early months.

Congressional leaders, particularly Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), have voiced their determination to ensure Daszak is held to account. Following an NIH hearing, Wenstrup underscored the necessity of Daszak’s debarment to prevent any future misallocation of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Moreover, the ongoing Congressional inquiry into Daszak’s actions, including potential dishonesty and evasion of grant reporting requirements, signals a robust federal response to any misuse of research funds, especially those involving sensitive and potentially dangerous studies.

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