A committee formed to evaluate research projects involving pathogens that could cause pandemics has not worked during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Epoch Times has learned.
The Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight (P3CO) Review Committee was formed in 2017 under a new framework aimed at strengthening oversight of potentially risky projects that were up for funding from the U.S. government, following a multi-year pause ordered after issues involving anthrax and avian influenza.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH), created the panel.
According to the HHS website for the panel, it has only reviewed three projects, all of which were for influenza viruses. The most recent review took place in 2019.
The Epoch Times asked the HHS records office for any projects the panel has reviewed since Jan. 1, 2020, determinations for each project reviewed since then, and details, such as transcripts, of all meetings held.
The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) searched and found no records responsive to the request, according to the records office.
“Specifically, the ASPR has informed our office that the Committee has not reconstituted within the search dates given for the search,” Arianne Perkins, a Freedom of Information Act officer, told The Epoch Times in a letter.
Asked what that meant, Ruhma Sufian, another records officer, said in an email that “because the HHS P3CO Review Committee has not met within the search frame you gave … ASPR responded with no records.”
That means no work has been done by the committee despite it coming to light that the NIH funded risky experiments at the laboratory in Wuhan, China located near where the first COVID-19 cases appeared in 2019.
“It is unconscionable that the Committee has not reviewed any of the thousands of HHS-funded coronavirus research projects when people are still dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak—the American people deserve better,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who has tried halting grants for risky research, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.