The Defense Department doesn’t know how much money it sent directly or indirectly to Chinese entities to conduct research on viruses with potential to create a pandemic, according to a new report by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General.

The inspector general’s report found that the Pentagon has supplied Chinese entities—either directly or, via subgrants, indirectly—with taxpayer cash to research pathogens and their enhancement, but the exact figure is unknown because of “limitations” in an internal tracking system.


Government funding for such research in China has come under scrutiny since the COVID-19 pandemic, which multiple government entities believe started when an engineered coronavirus leaked from a Chinese laboratory that was hosting U.S. government-backed gain-of-function research.

“Incompetence, absurdity, insanity; it’s hard to find a word that adequately describes this. Of all the things that DOD tracks, funds for dangerous research that could find their way to a hostile regime should be at the top of the list of those they keep close tabs on,” Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, told the Daily Caller News Foundation regarding the report’s findings. “It makes you wonder if they really know where all our nuclear warheads are. The military is one of the few areas of government in which the public still maintains a modicum of trust, but, sadly, it looks like they are working hard to squander even that.”

The inspector general’s review of this specific issue was required by the terms of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024, which President Joe Biden signed into law in December. The inspector general’s investigation sought to determine just how much taxpayer cash was routed via “grants, contracts, subgrants, subcontracts, or any other type of agreement or collaboration, to Chinese research labs or to fund research or experiments in China or other foreign countries that could have reasonably resulted in the enhancement of pathogens of pandemic potential, from 2014 through 2023.”

Specifically, the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General learned from Army officials that 12 grant awards fit the description of what it was investigating, seven of which were subgrants or subcontracts provided to entities in China or other foreign countries for research involving or related to enhanced pathogens, the report states.

The review also identified another $9.9 million in funding that reached Chinese entities for research purposes, though that research was unrelated to pathogens.

“However, we did encounter significant challenges in searching for awards related to section 252 of the FY 2024 NDAA reporting requirement due to limitations in the DoD’s systems used to track contracts and grants,” the report states, referring to the National Defense Authorization Act. “Therefore, the full extent of DoD funds provided to Chinese research laboratories or other foreign countries for research related to enhancement of pathogens of pandemic potential is unknown.”

The issues with the Pentagon’s grant tracking systems created “significant constraints” for the Office of the Inspector General that “hindered [its] ability to conduct a thorough examination” of the Pentagon’s involvement in funding this specific type of research, the report states.

The Government Accountability Office previously conducted a similar review of the Defense Department’s spending and Chinese entities receiving taxpayer dollars to conduct research on pathogens with pandemic potential. Its final report—published in September 2022—also detailed similar struggles with the department’s grant and subgrant tracking systems.

The Department of Energy has concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic most likely began when the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, which was the site of gain-of-function research funded by the U.S. government via an organization called EcoHealth Alliance. Additionally, FBI Director Christopher Wray has acknowledged that the bureau reached a similar conclusion.

Despite this, Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has reiterated his position that a lab leak is the less likely scenario of the two. Fauci did so as recently as Tuesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic killed more than 1 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and millions more globally. The U.S. policy response to the pandemic inflicted considerable economic and social damage on the general public.

The Defense Department didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation