Investigators from the US government announced on Tuesday that they are looking into how the National Institutes of Health organises and supervises its grant programme, which is likely to involve money linked to a Wuhan lab that has been scrutinised by Republican lawmakers.
Republicans have focused their attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci and the NIH’s association with EcoHealth Alliance, a global NGO that helped fund certain studies at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, CNN has reported.
The comprehensive review comes along with new questions about the origins of the Covid-19 virus, as well as the possible role of China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“We share stakeholders’ concerns regarding compliance and oversight of NIH grant funds. We have been monitoring this issue for some time and consider it a high-priority matter that can pose a threat to the integrity of the NIH grant program," Tesia Williams, the director of communications for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, told CNN.
“Based on our preliminary research and analysis, HHS-OIG has decided to conduct an extensive audit reviewing how NIH monitored selected grants and how the grantees and subgrantees used and managed federal funds between years 2014 through 2021," Williams said.
Approximately 80% of NIH funding is used to support research projects, including grants to international organisations. According to the review’s work plan, it will examine how these grants are managed, as well as ensuring that the recipient’s usage and management of NIH award monies complies with federal standards.
One NIH official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the review freely, described it as “political" in nature but believed it would eventually be beneficial and clear NIH of any wrongdoing.