NIH Official Admits to Taxpayer Funding of Gain-of-Function Research

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak admitted that taxpayer funds went to gain-of-function research in China’s Institute of Virology.

Republican Representative Debbie Lesko (AZ) asked during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic hearing, “Did NIH fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology through EcoHealth [Alliance]?”

“It depends on your definition of gain-of-function research,” Tabak said. “If you’re speaking about the generic term, yes, we did.”

Tabak explained that the “generic term” is “research that goes on in many, many labs around the country. It is not regulated. And the reason it’s not regulated is it poses no threat or harm to anybody.”

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) asked if Tabak would support another taxpayer-funded grant for bat coronaviruses.

“With the benefit of what we know today, no,” Tabak responded. He further admitted that the NIH relied too heavily on EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak’s self-reporting on virus growth.

“Dr. Tabak, looking back, did the NIH rely too much on Dr. Daszak’s self-reporting information?” Miller-Meeks asked.

“With the benefit of hindsight, we did, because we never received the information,” Tabak said.

Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suspended funding for Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance (EHA).

EHA “did not adequately monitor” compliance from the Chinese Wuhan lab with the terms provided in a U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, according to a memo sent to the organization.

“Therefore, given the issues regarding the management of EHA’s grant awards and subawards, I have determined that the immediate suspension of EHA is necessary to protect the public interest,” Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Henrietta Brisbon wrote.

“EcoHealth will now face an immediate, government-wide suspension of taxpayer funds — including a hold on all active grants,” the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic announced on social media.