Senators are demanding answers about a laboratory in Montana where US taxpayer money was used to manipulate coronaviruses before the pandemic.
DailyMail.com revealed last week how government-sponsored researchers infected bats with a ‘SARS-like’ virus in 2018 as part of a collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is at the center of the Covid cover-up scandal.
Republican Senators Joni Ernst, from Iowa, and Eric Schmitt, from Missouri, will today send a letter to the National Institutes of Health demanding ‘to learn more about potentially risky research’ carried out at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML).
The senators’ letter, seen by DailyMail.com, reads: ‘There is no room for error and no excuse for carelessness, since even a minor mishap can be catastrophic when dealing with dangerous biological agents, especially those with pandemic potential.’
The letter lays out 10 questions, including how many live bats are currently being housed at the lab and future planned experiments.
Photos of bats confined at the Maryland zoo that shipped the animals to an NIH lab for coronavirus experiments in 2018 obtained by the White Coat Waste Project
Questions include: ‘Will the renovated RML conduct gain-of-function research or any other type of experimentation enhancing the pathogenicity of infectious agents or creating chimeric versions?’
‘Should any biosafety incidents at RML occur, how will Congress and the public be notified?’
‘Where are RML’s lab animals sourced from? Are bats or other animals being imported from foreign nations?’
The senators’ letter highlighted the lab had previously reported a number of protocol breaches, including a mouse infected with an Ebola-like virus escaping its cage and roaming free for a day and unauthorized individuals, including a child, found wandering near the lab’s primate facility.
The CDC was not alerted immediately about the breaches because, the letter states, lab officials ‘did not believe they needed to report the escaped rodent but later did when instructed to by CDC officials.’
The revelation last week was met with anger among politicians who said it revealed eerie ties between the NIH, which was under Dr Anthony Fauci’s leadership at the time, and the Chinese lab feared to have sparked the global Covid-19 pandemic.
It also exposed the controversial research tactics being funded by American taxpayer dollars.
The 2018 collaboration saw Rocky Mountain researchers infect 12 Egyptian fruit bats that had been acquired from a shady, ‘roadside’ Maryland zoo.
The animals were infected with a ‘SARS-like’ virus called WIV1-coronavirus to study the virus’ behavior and transmissibility. The virus had been shipped from the Wuhan lab the FBI believes caused the Covid pandemic, though the research determined the novel virus could not cause a ‘robust infection.’
Rocky Mountain Laboratories was constructed in 1928 in Hamilton, Montana, and is a ‘state-of-the-art biomedical research facility,’ the NIH said. A key component of the facility is its research into vector-borne diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, as well as coronaviruses and antibiotic-resistant diseases.
Now, the lab is spending $125 million in Covid-19 funds to construct a new biosafety level 2 lab that will support animal breeding, holding and experiment programs, as well as quarantine for animals classified as biosafety levels 3 and 4.
The new facility will also expand RML’s capabilities for studies involving exotic species, including bats.
The senators sent a letter to the NIH asking 10 questions about a lab in Montana that performs dangerous virus experiments on animals
Shi Zhengli – dubbed the ‘Bat Lady’ or ‘Bat Woman’ for her work on bat coronaviruses – investigated the possibility Covid could have emerged from her lab back in 2020, according to colleagues
WCW Senior Vice President Justin Goodman told DailyMail.com: ‘We applaud Senator Ernst for taking swift and decisive action to hold the NIH accountable for wasting taxpayer dollars on cruel, unnecessary, and potentially catastrophic animal tests at its Montana bioagent super lab that has a history of animal escapes and security breaches.’
The senators added they are also concerned about the work the NIH is doing with the non-profit scientific research organization EcoHealth Alliance.
Senator Joni Ernst told DailyMail.com in a statement: ‘We have watched the horror movie of Chinese state-run Wuhan Lab’s experiments on coronaviruses in bats, and I have worked to defund Ecohealth’s dangerous projects.
‘To willingly allow the sequel to happen at the taxpayers’ expense is plain batty. But under Fauci’s leadership, Rocky Mountain Lab has increased its risky research of pandemic potential.
‘We cannot allow what happened in Wuhan on our own shores, which is why I’m working to prevent any future lab leak.’
The RML has a long and ongoing history of collaborating with the organization, which the lawmakers describe as ‘the virus-hunting group that steered US taxpayer dollars into the Wuhan Institute for research on bat coronaviruses.’
They said EHA violated the health agency’s grant policies by not notifying officials when EHA’s subcontractor, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, enhanced coronaviruses in its labs and repeatedly refused requests to provide documents about those experiments, which, the senators claim, could contain crucial clues about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The senators added: ‘Needless to say, we are deeply concerned [the] NIH continues to invite this shady organization to collaborate, especially on pandemic prevention studies, since the group has thus far not prevented any pandemics, but may have caused one.
‘Quite frankly, it sounds way too much like a bad sequel to a horror movie, featuring the same cast of characters and predictable plot.
‘We would, therefore, like to learn more about RML’s past, present and future experimentation with select agents and dangerous pathogens as well as collaborations with EcoHealth Alliance.’
The lawmakers’ 10 questions to the NIH are:
1. What is the RML’s anticipated annual budget for the upcoming fiscal year and the last five fiscal years, including any supplemental or COVID-related funding?
2. What is the total number of live bats and other live animals currently held at RML, delineated by species?
3. What is the total number of live bats and other live animals expected to be housed at the expanded RML facility, delineated by species?
4. Where are RML’s lab animals sourced from? Are bats or other animals being imported from foreign nations?
5. Are there any current or future RML projects that will involve EcoHealth Alliance or collaborators from the organization? List all past and current RML projects which include collaborators representing or affiliated with EcoHealth Alliance and describe the involvement.
6. Are there any future or pending RML projects that will involve researchers, laboratories, and other institutions and individuals based in the People’s Republic of China? List all RML past, present, and planned projects that involve collaborations with researchers, laboratories, and other institutions and individuals based in the People’s Republic of China and describe their involvement.
7. Will the renovated RML conduct gain-of-function research or any other type of experimentation enhancing the pathogenicity of infectious agents or creating chimeric versions? If so, how will Congress and the public be informed of any such experiments planned at RML?
8. How will Congress and the public be informed of proposed RML research involving select agents, defined by the CDC as “biological agents and toxins that have been determined to have the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety?”
9. Should any biosafety incidents at RML occur, how will Congress and the public be notified?
10. Please describe and detail all RML live bat or live non-human primate experiments and/or studies, before December 2019, involving a SARS-like virus or a chimera from a SARS-like virus. Please include the GenBank reference number for the virus(es) studied, or if the sequences remain unpublished, please explain why.
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