NIH Won’t Release COVID Information Due to ‘Misinformation’

The names of scientists working on coronavirus were redacted.

  • The National Institute of Health (NIH) is being sued by a watchdog group after a federal judge ruled in their favor to seal the name of the Chinese scientist who worked on coronavirus research.
  • Empower Oversight filed a motion in federal district court on Thursday objecting to Magistrate Judge John Anderson’s move to have the name of South China Agricultural University scientist Kangpeng Xiao’s name sealed, despite the agency previously disclosing Xiao’s name in a public records request made by U.S. Right to Know in 2020.
  • Empower Oversight filed a lawsuit against the NIH in November 2021 asking that they comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests relating to the Chinese researchers’ requests to remove genetic sequences of the SARS-CoV-2.
  • The NIH responded that the redaction was due to privacy concerns in a declaration to the court saying that the information would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
  • NIH FOIA officer Gorka Garcia-Malene also claimed that the information needed to be redacted “because of the amount of misinformation surrounding the pandemic and its origins.” 
  • In a July 11 court filing, Empower Oversight claimed that the NIH improperly redacted its documents when filling FOIA requests, after a reporter inquired about a Chinese scientist’s actions were questions.
  • The names of the scientists working on the viruses in connection with the NIH were both redacted, though it was clear due to previous records that the scientist was Kangpeng Xiao.
  • The NIH asserted that their actions were due to privacy concerns, responding to the court, saying, “Exemption 6 mandates the withholding of information that if disclosed ‘would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.’ 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6). Exemption 6 was applied here due to the heightened public scrutiny with anything remotely related to COVID-19.”
  • While being initially denied, the accusation that the COVID-19 pandemic was a man-made disaster has picked up steam, with Facebook removing its ban on posts that COVID-19 was man-made.
  • Reports that the coronavirus that has run rampant was never found naturally have gained steam with united States experts who say there’s “damning” scientific evidence that indicates the virus was optimized in a lab.