EcoHealth Alliance Response to the April 9, 2024 Article “The Great COVID Cover-up: Shocking truth about Wuhan and 15 federal agencies”

April 9, 2024 – In the article “The Great COVID Cover-up: Shocking truth about Wuhan and 15 federal agencies”, Fox News uncritically repeats several unfounded and false claims about EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) and a proposed project submitted to the Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for funding.

EcoHealth Alliance did submit a proposal for a project named DEFUSE to DARPA for funding, but the agency declined to select the project for support and the proposed research was never done. Beyond the fact that EHA did submit a proposal to DARPA, every other statement about EHA reported by Fox News in this story is unfounded:   

(1) This project proposal was never submitted to any other federal agencies for consideration.

(2)  EcoHealth Alliance did not support “gain-of-function” research at WIV. Any assertions to the contrary are based either on misinterpretation, or willful misrepresentation of the actual research conducted. The NIH defines “gain-of-function” as research that will create new viral strains with “enhanced transmissibility or virulence” for viruses that are already (1) “likely highly transmissible and likely capable of wide and uncontrollable spread in human populations;” and (2) “likely highly virulent and likely to cause significant morbidity and/or mortality in humans.” Because the SARS-related research conducted by EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology dealt with bat coronaviruses that had never been shown to infect people, let alone cause significant morbidity and/or mortality in humans, by definition it was not gain-of-function research. This was confirmed by NIH on July 7, 2016, in a letter to EcoHealth Alliance made public via Freedom of Information Act requests stating “NIAID is in agreement that the work proposed … is not subject to the GoF research funding pause” (italics added). This was also stated by NIH spokesperson Elizabeth Deatrick in comments to the press (https://theintercept.com/2021/09/09/covid-origins-gain-of-function-research/). 

(3)  EHA did not send “millions of dollars” to another scientist to create chimeric coronaviruses. EcoHealth Alliance is not a grantmaking organization. While it is unclear what specific funding award the Fox News article refers to, EcoHealth Alliance does not send and has never sent money to other organizations. Any work financially supported by an award from a federal government agency was just that – underwritten by the federal government, and not EcoHealth Alliance. 

(4) Neither EcoHealth Alliance, nor any of its staff members, ‘concealed’ the DEFUSE proposal. Instead, it was submitted to a federal agency, and subject to the normal rules governing grant proposals.

(5) The list of EcoHealth Alliance partners shared at a January 2018 ‘Proposer’s Day’ event includes people and organizations who were not ultimately involved in drafting the DEFUSE proposal, which was submitted months later. Furthermore, the presence of a Federal Agency at the Proposer’s Day event does not mean that they had detailed information on the DEFUSE proposal, which had not yet been drafted.

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