According to a report by OpenTheBooks, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) collected $710 million in royalty payments from “private pharmaceutical firms” during COVID-19.

Nearly all of the royalty payments went to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the agency formerly led by Anthony Fauci.

“In 2022 and 2023, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies paid the National Institutes of Health a sum of $710,381,160 in third party royalties. These were payments to NIH, its leadership and scientists by healthcare entities licensing inventions created in federal, taxpayer-paid labs. The two-year average of such payments over the prior decade was less than $5 million, for an increase of more than 175 times,” OpenTheBooks stated.

“Fauci’s institute, The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) received $690,218,610 of the $710 million, or 97%. In the same period, the other 26 institutes under the NIH received some $26 million in total,” the organization added.

OpenTheBooks sued the NIH twice in federal court, alongside Judicial Watch as its legal partner, over the agency’s royalty payment database.

Per OpenTheBooks:

Some of these companies, like Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, are recognizable as some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Other notable top companies include:

  • State-owned Chinese vaccine developers Changchun BCHT and China National Biotech Group
  • Intranasal vaccine developer Blue Willow Biologics
  • Taiwan-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp, which developed the MVC COVIC-19 vaccine

Just this list raises all kinds of potential conflict-of-interest questions such as how much money did the Chinese state-owned vaccine developers pay NIH on third party royalties during a period when Fauci, NIH, and their colleagues did all they could to hammer down the Wuhan lab-leak theory?

While it’s clear vaccine developers are licensing patents from the NIH, it is unclear if those patents are related to COVID-19 treatments.

The NIH provided un-redacted license numbers as a part of the lawsuit, however, the agency’s active license database , which describes the technology being licensed, only runs until fiscal year 2020. We reached out to NIH to ask why this database is not updated. As is typical, they ignore such questions.

Without an up-to-date database connecting patents to NIH licenses, auditors cannot match the medical invention to the payment from a private company.

Pfizer and Moderna are not among the top royalty payers during this time – based on payment count. Moderna made 29 payments to named scientists and Pfizer made nine.

Moderna did settle litigation with NIH in February 2023 for a $400 million payment for their licensing of Covid-vaccine technologies, but it is unknown if any of these funds are reflected in our data.

As more questions pile up around NIH’’s involvement in pandemic policy, and even pandemic origins, it is crucial the full dataset is unredacted as a step towards restoring trust in this agency.

Adam Andrzejewski, OpenTheBooks CEO/Founder, said in an op-ed for the New York Post that Fauci has “spent years scoffing at questions about potential conflicts of interest between COVID policymakers, who relentlessly pushed vaccines, and recipients of private royalties.”

“Is it right for scientists and doctors getting paid by the American people, government taxpayer paychecks to get patents where they’re paid millions and hundreds of millions of dollars in royalty fees?” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) asked Fauci.


Andrzejewski wrote via the New York Post:

Beyond this small cabal of scientists covering up discussions of the virus’s origin, NIH has consistently treated FOIA requests like viral attacks on their own. No wonder, then, that we’re plaintiffs in six ongoing FOIA cases.

Characteristically, NIH is still redacting pieces of the data that would help us more easily connect therapeutics with their government-paid inventors. For example, they refuse to show us the amount of royalties paid to each individual scientist. So we still can’t entirely follow the money.

In the meantime, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has sponsored the Royalty Transparency Act, which sailed unanimously through the committee process and deserves a floor vote immediately.

There’s plenty Fauci could do in the meantime, too. He could indicate he supports bills like Paul’s. He could call on NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to voluntarily “unmask” the royalty payments. Then we could see whether their decisions have advanced the general welfare or their own.

Fauci could also support fixes to the FOIA law that create real consequences for those who purposely violate it.

At minimum, he must apologize for the utter contempt for FOIA, and the transparency war waged by his colleagues that’s now been revealed in private communications.

Among the government’s most basic duties to the public are providing for the general welfare and reporting its income and spending.

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