Emails Show FBI Sought Documents Related to NIH-Funded EcoHealth Alliance Gain of Function Research
Emails obtained by the Intercept indicate that the Federal Bureau of Investigation sought documents detailing controversial research conducted in Wuhan by EcoHealth Alliance, an organization accused by its critics of conducting dangerous “gain of function” research before the advent of COVID-19.
The heavily redacted emails, obtained through extensive FOIA litigation between the Intercept and the National Institutes of Health, reveal that the latter answered questions from an FBI agent named David Miller in May of 2020. At the time, investigations into the origin of the coronavirus and allegations of the involvement of the Wuhan Institute of Virology were in their early stages, with then-President Donald Trump having ordered the FBI to begin investigating.
The email response from NIH Senior Programs Investigations Officer Ashley Sanders contains an SF 424, a form used by private research organizations to outline their work in applications for monetary grants from the NIH. The actual document is completely redacted.
Internal Department of Defense documents reveal that DARPA, the military’s scientific research division, rejected funding EcoHealth Alliance’s China research on the basis of its work resembling dangerous gain-of-function research. Senior federal medical personnel such as Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins have rejected any insinuation that the NIH-funded research resembled gain of function, with the latter harshly criticizing those who theorize that COVID-19’s origins could involve laboratory research gone wrong.
A federal spy agency query ordered by President Donald Trump into the origin of COVID-19 ended in October, with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence releasing one assessment from an unidentified agency stating that the disease had a lab origin “probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” It’s a possibility that the assessment in question utilized the SF 424 obtained by the FBI, which would’ve shed greater detail on the nature of the research overseen by EcoHealth Alliance in China and potentially implicated the company in unsafe practices that could’ve later led to a lab leak at the facility.
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