EcoHealth Alliance Response to False Statements About an Unfunded Grant Proposal
December 21, 2023 – The recent flurry of media attention surrounding a 2018 proposal that EcoHealth Alliance drafted and submitted to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for funding along with partners at UNC, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, Duke-NUS, PARC and the WIV alleges baseless conclusions from dubious premises. The only incontrovertible fact is that the proposal was rejected by DARPA for funding and the work was never done. It is hard to understand the allegations in these articles when the project in question never happened.
Documents representing incomplete or early drafts of the proposal have been acquired via the Freedom of Information Act and published along with allegations regarding their intent (https://usrtk.org/covid-19-origins/american-scientists-misled-pentagon-on-wuhan-research/). These allegations are false, based on misunderstanding of edits and comments on the document, and based on misleading out-of-context quotations, and a lack of understanding of the process by which federal grants are awarded.
EcoHealth Alliance wants to remind any readers of these articles that DARPA did not select this proposal for funding. Had they done so, the work would have been subject to further detailed review, with requests for detailed information about important aspects of the planned work, as occurs with all federal grant proposals. This would have included review of any proposed work with animals, with human samples, with select agents (pathogens known to be lethal to people), and recombinant virus experiments. It would also have included detailed review of biosafety considerations for the proposed work, of any potential overlap with other federally-funded work, and of the allowability of foreign institutions to conduct specific aspects of the proposed work. All of these changes would have been agreed to explicitly with DARPA before the work proceeded. Because the work was not selected for funding, any assertions about these details are by definition based on review of incomplete information and are extremely misleading.
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