Federal watchdog to examine NIH grants, likely including Wuhan funding

A federal watchdog is opening a review into the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) oversight of grants to support research conducted outside the United States.

The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced the review as part of its updated work plan.

Approximately 80 percent of NIH funding goes to support research grants, including grants and subawards to support research conducted outside the United States.

The OIG said it has previously identified NIH’s oversight of grants to foreign applicants as a potential risk to the program’s goals, as well as the appropriate use of federal funds.

Tesia Williams, a spokeswoman for the HHS OIG, told The Hill that the office will run an audit “reviewing how NIH monitored selected grants and how the grantees and subgrantees used and managed federal funds between years 2014 through 2021.”

Follows: The announcement comes amid renewed questions about the origin of the coronavirus, and efforts by Republicans to show grants from the NIH were funneled into illegal research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Republicans have focused on the relationship between NIH and the global nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, claiming that the NIH, and subsequently Anthony Fauci, were responsible for funding controversial research in Wuhan, China, that led to the creation of the novel coronavirus.

What’s next: The OIG said it will review NIH’s monitoring of selected grants, as well as grantee use and management of NIH grant funds in accordance with federal requirements. A report is expected in 2022.