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EcoHealth Alliance president to testify on COVID origins, Wuhan lab taxpayer-funded research

EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak is expected to publicly testify on Wednesday before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

According to congressional lawmakers, EcoHealth – a U.S.-based nonprofit whose mission is to prevent pandemics – used taxpayer dollars ‘to fund dangerous gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)’ in China.

Committee Chair Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, is set to lead the hearing, but House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and House Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., are also expected to attend to ask questions of Daszak.

The hearing is expected to begin at 10 a.m.

Daszak testified behind closed doors in November, but House Republicans said his testimony contained many ‘discrepancies,’ according to a letter from Wenstrup and other GOP committee chairs sent to Daszak last month.

‘These revelations undermine your credibility as well as every factual assertion you made during your transcribed interview,’ Wenstrup and the others wrote. ‘The Committees have a right and an obligation to protect the integrity of their investigations, including the accuracy of testimony during a transcribed interview. We invite you to correct the record.’ 

Lawmakers are calling on Daszak to address the discrepancies in his testimony and publicly explain EcoHealth’s relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Lawmakers also said the discrepancies raise ‘serious questions about the veracity of EcoHealth’s public statements, including their insistence that the research they funded at the WIV could not have caused the pandemic.’ 

But Daszak’s public hearing is of interest to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

A spokesperson for Democrats on the COVID subcommittee told Fox News Digital that throughout the Congress, they have ‘underscored the importance of pursuing and prioritizing forward-looking reforms that enhance biosafety standards in the United States and around the globe so that we can reduce the threat of future outbreaks and prevent future pandemics.’

‘In the Select Subcommittee’s probe of federally funded research, testimony and documents reviewed by Select Subcommittee Democrats raise serious concerns that EcoHealth Alliance disregarded federal reporting requirements that ensure grantees are accountable to the American people,’ the spokesperson told Fox News Digital. ‘We look forward to Dr. Daszak’s testimony before the Select Subcommittee on this matter.’

Fox News Digital previously reported that EcoHealth Alliance received millions of dollars in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). U.S. taxpayer funds flowed to Chinese entities conducting coronavirus research through EcoHealth Alliance.

That money – at least $600,000 – was redirected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and went toward research to assess the transmission of bat coronaviruses to humans. The research included conducting RNA extractions and DNA sequencing on bat samples as well as biological experiments on pathogen spillover from bats to humans. 

EcoHealth Alliance also received more than $200,000 that was redirected to Wuhan University and went toward disease surveillance research activities, including collection of biological samples from people in China with high levels of exposure to bats for Wuhan Institute of Virology to conduct further screening.

Former U.S. government officials, like former NIH Director Francis Collins, said the U.S. taxpayer money was not approved to conduct gain-of-function research, which is research that involves modifying a virus to make it more infectious among humans.

‘Dr. Daszak’s closed-door testimony raised serious concerns about EcoHealth Alliance’s relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology,’ Wenstrup told Fox News Digital in a statement. ‘Even after the Select Subcommittee reminded Dr. Daszak that he could be subject to criminal prosecution if he lied to the Committees, Dr. Daszak made numerous claims that seemed to be inconsistent with outside evidence and previous revelations.’ 

‘We are looking forward to an honest forum where the American people can hear directly from the President of EcoHealth Alliance and finally receive the answers about the origins of COVID-19 that they deserve,’ Wenstrup said.

The U.S. Energy Department and the FBI have determined that COVID-19 likely emerged from a lab leak in China.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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