Interior Department Worked With Group Linked To Wuhan Lab On Key COVID Report: Watchdog
Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus make a visit to the institute in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 3, 2021. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP)
Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images.

The Department of the Interior worked with officials from a global non-profit linked to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China on a key study of COVID and bats in the United States, according to a watchdog group. 

Protect the Public’s Trust, a government watchdog organization, obtained documents showing that the Interior Department worked with officials from the EcoHealth Alliance, a controversial group linked to the lab in Wuhan, on a report on “the possibility that humans could give SARS-CoV-2 to bats and bats would in turn spread the infection back to humans.”

The EcoHealth Alliance previously took a U.S. grant for bat virus research and paid part of it to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The group’s president, Peter Daszak, was part of the World Health Organization-China team that dismissed the lab leak hypothesis as “extremely unlikely.”

“EcoHealth’s track record doesn’t inspire confidence,” said Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain. “And here we have another instance of the U.S. government relying on this group – and during a consequential phase of a pandemic. The scandal plagued organization tried – and for a while succeeded – to move investigators’ and media focus away from the Wuhan lab where it was closely involved in research.”

According to the watchdog, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service both worked on a report on whether COVID could be spread between bats and humans with EcoHealth Alliance Vice President for Science and Outreach Jonathan Epstein and Vice President for Research Kevin Olival.  

“As we unearth more EHA ties to the federal government, the question is why the federal government has downplayed the organization’s apparent reporting violations and how the public can have any confidence that it is deserving of taxpayer funds,” Chamberlain added. 


In response to the report, Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) said that federal funding of the EcoHealth Alliance needs to be audited. 

“It’s becoming clearer and clearer by the day just how involved the federal government was with funding EcoHealth Alliance leading up to and during the pandemic,” he told The Spectator. “EcoHealth Alliance continues to be at the heart of the origins of the Covid pandemic, and I’ve called for stripping EHA of its federal funding and auditing the funds it received over the last decade. This revelation reinforces my position further.”

The watchdog’s report comes as increased scrutiny is being placed on the Wuhan lab, as some entities, including the FBI and the Department of Energy, believe that it is likely that COVID emerged after a lab leak. 

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