E&C Republicans Seek Data and Documents from NIH on Early COVID Cases
Committee seeks to improve pandemic preparedness, strengthen grant oversight, and enhance the biosafety of lab and field research
Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) today on behalf of the Oversight and Health subcommittee Republican members wrote to Dr. Lawrence Tabak, the senior official who is performing the duties of Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They requested information to bolster the committee’s ongoing investigation into the origins of COVID-19 regarding any early sequences, data from early cases, or other pertinent documents related to the early phase of the pandemic.
The letter follows New York Times April 23, 2023, reporting that the Chinese Communist Party forced a team of scientists from the United States and China to withdraw an early study on COVID-19:
Early in 2020, on the same day that a frightening new illness officially got the name Covid-19, a team of scientists from the United States and China released critical data showing how quickly the virus was spreading, and who was dying.
The study was cited in health warnings around the world and appeared to be a model of international collaboration in a moment of crisis.
Within days, though, the researchers quietly withdrew the paper, which was replaced online by a message telling scientists not to cite it. A few observers took note of the peculiar move, but the whole episode quickly faded amid the frenzy of the coronavirus pandemic.
What is now clear is that the study was not removed because of faulty research. Instead, it was withdrawn at the direction of Chinese health officials amid a crackdown on science.
The Chairs’ letter, which serves as a formal notice to preserve all relevant documents and records, requests the following unredacted information by May 17, 2023:
- All correspondence between Lili Ren and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) or Genbank in the timeframe from January 1, 2019, to March 15, 2020, as well as any associated data files.
- All documents, including the research proposal and progress reports, related to NIH grant R01AI098775.
- All documents, including the research proposal and progress reports, related to NIH grant R01AI139092.
- The unredacted version of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosure found here.
- The unredacted version of the FOIA disclosure found here.
CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Dr. Tabak.