EcoHealth Alliance Statement Regarding Disinformation That Scientists From Other Organizations Are Acting As Paid PR Consultants

April 3 2023 – EcoHealth Alliance has received information that scientists from outside our organization are being threatened and harassed online, through emails and demands for non-existent documents to their employers, and even through requests for Congressional investigations, regarding false allegations that they are working to coordinate PR and Communications efforts for EcoHealth Alliance. As with many of the myths and conspiracies surrounding COVID-19 and our scientific research, these allegations appear to originate in disinformation generated regarding federally funded work that EcoHealth Alliance has undertaken. 

For example, EcoHealth Alliance has received DTRA funding since 2014 to work on Rift Valley Fever modeling and field epidemiology that subcontracts a small portion of the overall funds to Dr. Assaf Anyamba, a leading scientist specializing in remote sensing. Dr. Anyamba worked previously for USRA, an organization founded in 1969 at NASA’s request under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences. The subcontract to Dr. Anyamba is a matter of public record, and important scientific results from this have already been published. These facts have been twisted to allege that a NASA employee, Dr. Peter H. Jacobs, has been paid by EcoHealth Alliance or others to conduct PR/Communication work for EcoHealth Alliance. This is entirely false – EcoHealth Alliance does not have, and has never entered into, a financial or professional relationship with Dr. Jacobs, who is being targeted based on his NASA employment rather than any genuine relationship to EcoHealth Alliance. 

Allegations have also been circulated that our collaboration with Dr. Anyamba involved activity unrelated to the stated goals of this federal grant. These are also demonstrably false, considering the body of scientific work that this collaboration has produced. Still others allege that EcoHealth Alliance has hired scientists, authors and commentators who are active on Twitter, blogs and podcasts (e.g. Dr. Philipp Markolin) to work on PR and communications issues. These allegations are likewise completely false. 

EcoHealth Alliance strongly condemns efforts to harass these and other scientists and their employers, based on rumors, conspiracy theories, and disinformation campaigns that are generated to undermine science and scientists. They threaten the security of scientists and their families, and undermine our efforts to protect public health.