The National Institutes of Health has repeatedly failed to comply with congressional requests for documents related to its involvement with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, instead forcing agency personnel to “shred notes and other documents” referencing the Chinese Communist Party-run lab and its work with the U.S. government during the Obama administration.
Members of the Republican House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Xavier Becerra urging the release of the documents, which could prove highly relevant to the origins of COVID-19.
“Rather than be transparent with Committee Republicans, HHS and NIH have chosen to hide, obfuscate, and shield the truth,” argues the letter.
The letter reveals that an NIH advisor was “forced by NIH to shred notes and other documents pertaining to the WIV grants as early as 2014.” An email from an individual, whose name has been redacted, to a committee staff member on November 5th, 2021 revealed the following:
“I signed a confidentiality agreement in which I agreed not to discuss any grant with anyone except with other members of the study section, and – once the meeting was over – that I would destroy any notes that I had taken during the meeting (we did this by tossing them in shred box in the meeting room)).”
The letter outlines how, “to date, HHS and NIH have refused to produce any responsive documents or information.” The congressional committee requested documents from former NIH Director Francis Collins surrounding a 2014, Obama-era grant awarded from Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to EcoHealth Alliance and the WIV in May and July of 2021.
Despite Republican committee staff repeatedly amending their requests, making them broader in scope and easier for the federal agency to fulfill, both federal agencies have refused to turn over any documents.
“Since our July 15, 2021, request invoking §2954, Republican Committee staff have provided the following accommodations to HHS and NIH: time extensions, reducing the scope of the request, prioritizing certain documents, and engaging in in camera review of certain documents. Throughout this time, Republican Committee staff made clear to HHS staff that Committee Republicans may, at a later date, request full, unredacted copies of the documents reviewed in camera and all other documents responsive to the Requests,” explains the letter.