The Department of Health and Human Services suspended all federal grants Tuesday to the controversial Manhattan nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which funded gain-of-function virus research in Wuhan, China in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS deputy assistant secretary for acquisitions Katrina Brisbon informed EcoHealth President Dr. Peter Daszak in a Wednesday letter released by a House subcommittee investigating the outbreak that there was “adequate evidence” to recommend the nonprofit be cut off from future government contracts, writing “immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest.”

“Debarment is generally for a period not to exceed three years; however, regardless of whether EHA contests this action or responds to this Notice, I may impose debarment for a longer period or shorter period as the circumstances warrant,” Brisbon added.

In an accompanying memo, Brisbon said that EcoHealth had been “more than two years late” with one of its reviews of a grant proposal for its Wuhan project, which had for a time operated around a government-wide moratorium on the practice.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which permitted the grant, gave EcoHealth several opportunities to disprove that its experiments constituted gain-of-function research — but the group “failed to do so,” according to Brisbon.

That research also “likely violated protocols of the NIH regarding biosafety,” she added, with experiments conducted at biosafety level 2 — which according to Rutgers University molecular biologist Dr. Richard Ebright is comparable to the standards of safety at a typical dentist’s office.

Alarmingly, Brisbon revealed that NIH has yet to receive several materials from EcoHealth about its novel bat coronavirus research at the now-notorious Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or from the Chinese lab itself.

Daszak, in sworn congressional testimony earlier this month, said he had not even asked Wuhan researchers — including longtime collaborator and WIV deputy director Shi Zhengli — for viral sequences since before the pandemic began.

Brisbon’s memo also referenced an internal probe of “allegations that WIV released the coronavirus that was responsible for the COVID-19 global pandemic,” though no EcoHealth or other US-funded grant has been tied yet to the outbreak.

“EcoHealth Alliance is disappointed by HHS’ decision today and we will be contesting the proposed debarment,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We disagree strongly with the decision and will present evidence to refute each of these allegations and to show that NIH’s continued support of EcoHealth Alliance is in the public interest.”

“EcoHealth Alliance provably defrauded the US government, provably breached contractual terns of US-government grants, and, through the reckless gain-of-function research it conducted in Wuhan, probably caused the COVID-19 pandemic, killing 20 million and costing $25 trillion,” Ebright told The Post.

“Nevertheless, EcoHealth Alliance was awarded more than $50 million in new US-government funding since the start of the pandemic with most of that funding earmarked for the same kinds of reckless virus discovery and virus enhancement research that likely caused pandemic.”

The memo attached to the letter notes EcoHealth received a grant of more than $4 million from the NIH titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.”

More than half a million dollars of that funding flowed to the WIV between 2014 and 2021, a Government Accountability Office report found last year, to conduct “genetic experiments to combine naturally occurring bat coronaviruses with SARS and MERS viruses, resulting in hybridized (also known as chimeric) coronavirus strains.”

The grant was initially suspended in April 2020, with NIH’s then-principal deputy director Lawrence Tabak revealing in October 2021 that EcoHealth had violated the terms of its grant by performing the gain-of-function research.

The project had modified novel bat coronaviruses and made them 10,000 times more infectious for research on lab mice — but EcoHealth “failed to report” that to NIH.

Tabak stressed that the bat coronaviruses studied on the taxpayers’ dime in Wuhan could not have caused the COVID-19 pandemic because the “sequences of the viruses are genetically very distant.”

But other EcoHealth grant proposals have since come under scrutiny from experts like Ebright, who said “the evidence provided by the genome sequence” from another 2018 grant proposal project submitted to US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was a “smoking gun.”

Appearing before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on May 1, Daszak repeatedly denied that his group helped fund the gain-of-function experiments.

“EcoHealth Alliance and Dr. Peter Daszak should never again receive a single penny from the US taxpayer,” said COVID subcommittee chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), who had recommended a criminal investigation of Daszak before the hearing.

“Only two weeks after the Select Subcommittee released an extensive report detailing EcoHealth’s wrongdoing and recommending the formal debarment of EcoHealth and its president, HHS has begun efforts to cut off all US funding to this corrupt organization,” Wenstrup added.

“EcoHealth facilitated gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China without proper oversight, willingly violated multiple requirements of its multimillion-dollar National Institutes of Health grant, and apparently made false statements to the NIH,” he went on.

“EcoHealth’s immediate funding suspension and future debarment is not only a victory for the US taxpayer, but also for American national security and the safety of citizens worldwide.”

The HHS letter to Daszak also drew attention to other NIH grants it received to study viruses in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations, all of which are “uniquely focused on either emerging infectious disease, highly transmissible pathogens, or novel viruses.”

The Wuhan Institute of Virology was barred for 10 years from receiving any HHS grants in July 2023, months after both the FBI and US Energy Department determined a lab leak was the most likely cause of the COVID pandemic.

Wenstrup in his statement added that his subcommittee’s “investigation into EcoHealth and the origins of COVID-19 is far from over,” with high-profile public hearings planned in the coming weeks to question Tabak and former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“There must be full accountability, both civil and criminal, for EcoHealth and EcoHealth’s officers — particularly its president, Peter Daszak,” Ebright declared.

“And there must be full accountability for the US-government officials who enabled, abetted, and covered up EcoHealth’s misdeeds and who obstructed investigation of EcoHealth’s misdeeds.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that EcoHealth Alliance was restricted from receiving HHS grants for 10 years in July 2023. In fact, the Wuhan Institute of Virology was barred from access to the grants.

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