The U.S. Agency for International Development has refused to answer questions related to a $4.67 million grant it gave to EcoHealth Alliance late last year, the Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday.
EcoHealth is a research organization under fire for its past work studying bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab that some suspect is linked to the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
”The grant awarded to EcoHealth Alliance will implement the Conservation Works Activity in southwest Liberia,” a USAID spokesperson told the Examiner. ”CWA partners will work with local communities to improve farming practices and sustainable opportunities that reduce reliance on land, wood, or wildlife in conservation areas.”
The news comes after the National Institutes of Health announced on Oct. 20 that EcoHealth violated the agency’s terms of a grant it had given them. NIH revealed further violations by EcoHealth last month.
When the Examiner pressed USAID on EcoHealth’s violations of the previous NIH grant and possible connections to the Wuhan lab, USAID did not answer directly.
”CWA was competitively bid and awarded,” the spokesperson said. ”EcoHealth Alliance has experience monitoring wildlife and understanding forest-disease dynamics in Liberia, and its consortium partners have substantial experience with protected area management and rural development in Liberia.”
A group of House Republicans questioned the grant in a letter to USAID Administrator Samantha Power this week.
”[We are] deeply concerned by this award given EcoHealth and Dr. Daszak’s troubling record of failing to report findings from federally funded research, refusing to cooperate with congressional oversight of federal funding awarded to the organization, and collaborating with the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” they wrote.
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