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60 Minutes documents the worst example of science politicization we can recall

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

This aired on CBS’ 60 Minutes last night, and is one the most directly detrimental examples of science politicization I can recall reading about.


Peter Daszak’s U.S.-based EcoHealth Alliance is a preeminent science research non-profit that has received NIH funding for years, most recently $3.7 million to study COVID-19.

EcoHealth Alliance has spent years collaborating with China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, in concert with the NIH, doing the obviously critical work of cataloging bat viruses.

But given the blood on its hands, the Trump administration is in full blame-shift mode and has been promulgating the repeatedly debunked theory that the virus was created in the Wuhan lab.

While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was floating that batshittery, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and others were falsely claiming that the Obama administration had given the Wuhan lab a $3.7 million grant (EcoHealth had received grants under multiple administrations, including this one). Fox News and other usual suspects were whipped into an ignorant lather — this grant to the Wuhan lab must be cancelled!

So NIH terminated EcoHealth’s $3.7 million grant, giving the eye-rolling excuse that its work “doesn’t fit within the scope of NIH’s priorities right now.” Grant termination by the NIH is rare and usually due to some egregious conduct, like fraud or data manipulation, per Maureen Miller, Ph.D. epidemiologist at Columbia University.

Daszak’s work on virus research is indispensable.

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