The National Institutes of Health deleted two “sequencing runs” of pangolin coronavirus from its National Library of Medicine (NLM) at a Chinese researcher’s request on the eve of U.S. COVID-19 lockdowns, months before a previously known removal requested by a different Chinese researcher , according to newly disclosed records.
Now the agency is trying to convince a federal court to seal portions of those records and a litigant’s filing that name the earlier Chinese researcher and his NIH handler, claiming it “inadvertently failed” to redact them in responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
The government is trying to “put the toothpaste back in the tube,” said Empower Oversight founder Jason Foster, whose whistleblower support group filed the lawsuit last fall.
The former Senate Finance Committee investigator told the John Solomon Reports podcast the feds are suddenly “moving heaven and earth” when it comes to the privacy of a researcher “associated with the Chinese government” and information that could shed light on “the origins of the pandemic.”
This is “a huge contrast to what we see them doing” with U.S. government whistleblowers, including a case he’s working on, Foster said. The first emails obtained by Empower in the lawsuit showed an NIH staffer agreeing to remove a genetic sequence from public view in June 2020 upon the request of a Wuhan University researcher and asking for clarification on whether to remove another sequence. Both names were redacted.
The new batch of emails show NIH staffers deliberating how to respond to questions last fall from Jesse Bloom, who runs a virus and protein evolution lab at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.
His preprint paper on NIH’s sequence removal at the Wuhan researcher’s request prompted a tense meeting months earlier with scientists , including then-NIH Director Francis Collins and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious […]
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