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NIH has identified over 500 ‘scientists of concern’ amid Chinese espionage concerns, says agency official

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A high-ranking National Institutes of Health (NIH) official said the federal agency has identified over 500 “scientists of concern” within federally funded academic institutions and research programs, The Washington Examiner reported Friday. This comes as the U.S. government tries to combat coordinated foreign influence efforts, including Chinese economic espionage.

The NIH deputy director for extramural research, Dr. Michael Lauer, disclosed this information on Thursday during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing looking at safeguarding U.S. biomedical research, with undue foreign influence being a top concern.

“I think one big problem, senators, is that the threat is significant. […] We have identified over 500 scientists of concern. […] Each of these require a tremendous amount of work to figure out what exactly has been happening and to work carefully with the institution to figure out what’s going on,” Lauer said.

“As of April 2021, we have contacted more than 90 awardee institutions regarding concerns involving over 200 scientists,” he added.

Lauer also said, “We’ve seen scientists who have told their American institutions and the NIH that they’re spending 100% of their time in the U.S., when, in fact, they’re spending 50% to 60% of their time in China — so they’re lying about how they’re spending their time, and that kind of blatant lie affects the credibility and the integrity of the entire enterprise.”

“There have been over a hundred scientists who have been removed from the NIH ecosystem,” Lauer went on to say, mentioning that there have been “34 or so” referrals to the Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Inspector General.

“Unfortunately, a few governments have initiated systematic programs to exploit the collaborative nature of biomedical research and unduly influence U.S.‐supported researchers,” Lauer said, pointing to NIH’s three major areas of concern.

“First is the failure by some researchers at NIH‐funded institutions to disclose substantial contributions of resources from other organizations, including foreign governments and businesses,” he explained. “Second is diversion of proprietary information included in grant applications or produced by NIH‐supported biomedical research to other entities, including other countries. And third, failure by some peer reviewers to keep information in grant applications confidential, including, in some instances, disclosure to foreign entities or other attempts to influence funding decisions.”

For more details on this story, read the original report by The Washington Examiner here.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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China Says It’s Ready for Monkeypox and the West Isn’t

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As the Western press is becoming more and more concerned with monkeypox outbreaks, a recent bombshell report shows that Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China manipulated monkeypox to be more contagious in humans. This follows more evidence that the WIV had been experimenting with bat coronaviruses to increasingly infect humans.

But rather than agree to an honest investigation into the WIV and its role in spreading contagion around the world, China is once again trying to sell us an alternative reality. According to Chinese state-run media, it is China that is once again poised to be humanity’s savior and darling when it comes to fighting monkeypox, much like COVID-19. Not only that, but CCP press reporting shows evidence of China having an eerily well advanced infrastructure and gameplan to fight monkeypox. The West in contrast is not prepared, according to China.

Claim #1: China has the Wisdom to Fight Monkeypox

First, Chinese state-run media portray China as in a good position to combat monkeypox due to wisdom gleaned from combating COVID-19 and smallpox. One Global Times article noted that “[i]n the very early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has taken the measures of ‘early identification, reporting, isolation, diagnosis and treatment.’ Under such guidance, China has become one of the most successful countries in the COVID fight.” Another Global Times article cites a World Health Organization official as stating that “China’s COVID-19 control measures in place and largely reduced international arrivals minimize the risks of contagion in China.” A third Global Times article, citing “experts,” claims that “China’s successful experience in eliminating smallpox would also help the country act if monkeypox enters China’s borders…”

Claim #2: Chinese Healthcare Infrastructure Is Well Prepared to Deal with Monkeypox

China is well ahead of the game in dealing with monkeypox, according to Chinese state-run media. Chinese experts “suggest preparation of testing and treatment capacities in advance” to proactively combat monkeypox, according to Global Times. And “drug research should start early so that China can still control [monkeypox] should it assume pandemic proportions,” according to China Daily.

China is apparently quite far along in this “preparation” and “research.”

There are “several” Chinese manufacturers that have already made monkeypox nucleic acid test kits, and that these “can be quickly put into mass production and on the domestic market once approved by the government,” according to a second Global Times article.  This article also states that Chinese manufacturer Liferiver Bio-Tech has a nucleic acid test that has already been ordered in China and abroad.

This same article also states that vaccine development faces “no technological problems” and a vaccine can be produced in China in a year if China’s drug administration administers “a rapid special review.” China’s CDC also has already stockpiled “millions” of doses of smallpox vaccine, produced “an emergency response technical plan on monkeypox, stocked monkeypox detection reagents, and conducted training on monkeypox nucleic acid PCR testing for provincial and municipal CDC professionals.”

Mirroring its earlier “mask diplomacy” for COVID-19, it looks like China is beginning to export its healthcare to the world to help combat monkeypox. China’s Sansure Biotech is ready to register its nucleic acid test kit for monkeypox abroad, according to Global Times. And Jiangsu Bioperfectus Technologies has already has its Monkeypox Virus Real Time PCR Kits in the international market, according to Global Times.

Claim #3: The West is Ill-Equipped to Handle Monkeypox

On the other hand, Chinese media portrays the West as ill-equipped to handle monkeypox. For example, according to one Global Times editorial, “[t]he COVID pandemic that killed more than 1 million people in the US has given a tragic lesson to the US and the West, but it still remains to be seen to what extent the US and the West learned from it.” The West’s “conspiracy theories” and “panic” contributed to the “Western countries’ poor response to COVID-19.” That CCP editorial also pontificates that “[i]t is hoped that Western countries hit by monkeypox can do a good job in responding to the outbreak. They should not misjudge the virus with outdated perceptions…”

Claim #4: Current Monkeypox spread originated from outside China

Chinese media avoids the possibility that this current monkeypox outbreak could have originated in China. One Global Times article claims that there have been no cases of monkeypox reported in China, and that China faces a threat from monkeypox due to the cases being “outside known epidemic areas of Africa.” The fact that many countries have now lifted bans against international travel is the culprit for increased risk of monkeypox transmission, according to anonymous source within the Chinese CDC as mentioned in that same article. Another Global Times article stated that China could quarantine inbound international travellers “if necessary.”

The CCP propaganda machine is at it again.  Much like it tries to portray itself as a leader in fighting COVID-19, China is beginning to run a similar propaganda campaign for monkeypox. China is using COVID-19, and increasingly now monkeypox, as vehicles to curry favor and deflect responsibility for spreading contagion around the world, and to grow markets for healthcare technology and supplies.

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