Judicial Watch Sues Health and Human Services for Director Francis Collins’ Emails about Gain of Function Research, Hydroxychloroquine, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for all emails National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins related to gain of function research, hydroxychloroquine and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (Judicial Watch v U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-02302)).
This lawsuit was filed after the National Institutes of Health failed to respond to a June 8, 2021, FOIA request for:
All emails sent to and from Director Francis Collins related to “gain of function”, “hydroxychloroquine”, “HCQ”, and/or “Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
When challenged about whether the National Institutes of Health supported gain of function research, Collins released a statement on May 19, 2021, claiming:
Based on outbreaks of coronaviruses caused by animal to human transmissions such as in Asia in 2003 that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and in Saudi Arabia in 2012 that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), NIH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have for many years supported grants to learn more about viruses lurking in bats and other mammals that have the potential to spill over to humans and cause widespread disease. However, neither NIH nor NIAID have ever approved any grant that would have supported ‘gain-of-function’ research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans.
An August 26, 2021, report by the Washington Post claims the NIH has been funding gain of function research for years. According to the report:
In the United States, NIH Director Francis S. Collins and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the agency’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have led the federal funding and oversight of gain-of-function research.
Eight years ago, Collins and Fauci helped put in place high-level reviews and other safeguards in response to concerns raised by Relman [David A. Relman, a Stanford University physician and microbiologist] and aides to President Barack Obama, who were alarmed by what they saw as insufficient scrutiny of the research with ferrets. The NIH leaders and the Department of Health and Human Services pledged to subject the work to increased transparency and vetting. This included forming a review group of federal officials — known informally as a “Ferrets Committee” — to vet proposed projects for safety and worthiness.
However, Collins and Fauci in recent years have helped shape policy changes, directly and through their aides, that undercut the committee’s authority, according to federal documents, congressional testimony and interviews with dozens of present and former officials and science experts.
Since then, the experiments have continued to unfold amid secrecy, and HHS, which administers the review committee, has kept its work confidential: No agendas, meeting minutes or other records of its proceedings are public. Even the names of the federal officials assigned to serve on the committee, which has spanned the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, are kept secret
On Sunday, March 7, 2021, Collins argued to CBS News that hydroxychloroquine was a “bust:”
“Basically it was a bust … maybe it got in the way of trying other kinds of repurposed drugs. All the enthusiasm about hydroxychloroquine was basically dependent on anecdotal reports,” Collins said. “And that did leave everybody with kind of a sour taste in their mouths … we had to get over that. I think we’re over it now.”
“The NIH is in full cover-up mode about the COVID-19 controversies and politics. Where are the emails?” asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
On August 25, 2021, Judicial Watch made public 129 pages of records from HHS that included an “urgent for Dr. Fauci” email chain which cites ties between the Wuhan lab and the taxpayer-funded EcoHealth Alliance. The government emails also reported that the foundation of U.S. billionaire Bill Gates worked closely with the Chinese government to pave the way for Chinese-produced medications to be sold outside China and help “raise China’s voice of governance by placing representatives from China on important international counsels as high level commitment from China.”
In July, Judicial Watch obtained records from NIAID officials in connection with the Wuhan Institute of Virology revealing significant collaborations and funding that began in 2014. The records revealed that NIAID gave nine China-related grants to EcoHealth Alliance to research coronavirus emergence in bats and was the NIH’s top issuer of grants to the Wuhan lab itself.
Also in July, Judicial Watch uncovered CDC records revealing that Facebook coordinated closely with the CDC to control the COVID narrative and “misinformation” and that over $3.5 million in free advertising has been given to the CDC by social media companies.
In June, Judicial Watch announced that it filed FOIA lawsuits against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the State Department for information on the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Also in June, Judicial Watch obtained records from HHS revealing that from 2014 to 2019, $826,277 was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research by the NIAID.
In March, Judicial Watch publicly released emails and other records of Fauci and Dr. H. Clifford Lane from HHS showing that NIH officials tailored confidentiality forms to China’s terms and that the WHO conducted an unreleased, “strictly confidential” COVID-19 epidemiological analysis in January 2020. Additionally, the emails reveal an independent journalist in China pointing out the inconsistent COVID numbers in China to NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Special Projects Lane.
In October 2020, Judicial Watch uncovered emails showing a WHO entity pushing for a press release, approved by Fauci, “especially” supporting China’s COVID-19 response.