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NIH Investigating US Funding to Wuhan Lab Suspected in COVID-19 Outbreak

Researchers work in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province in 2017
Researchers work in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province in 2017. (AP)

By    |   Monday, 27 April 2020 10:10 PM

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has alerted a company that received a $3.7 million U.S. tax-funded grant that it is under investigation for funding work at the lab in Wuhan, China, from which some experts suspect the lethal and widespread coronavirus emerged, according to Breitbart News.

"EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. is the recipient, as grantee, of an NIH grant entitled 'Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergency,'" Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director for extramural research, wrote to Kevin Olival of EcoHealth Alliance and Naomi Schrag of Columbia University informing them of the investigation. The letter was obtained by Breitbart.

"It is our understanding that one of the sub-recipients of the grant funds is the Wuhan Institute of Virology ['WIV']. It is our understanding that WIV studies the interaction between coronaviruses and bats. The scientific community believes that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 jumped from bats to humans likely in Wuhan where the COVID-19 pandemic began. There are now allegations that the current crisis was precipitated by the release from WIV of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.

"Given these concerns, we are pursuing suspension of WIV from participation in Federal programs."

The NIH official has confirmed the $3.7 million grant was handed out in six-year installments at sites throughout the world, in China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand. The grant was meant to fund studies on how coronaviruses can infect humans in what is called a "spillover event."

"While we review these allegations during the period of suspension, you are instructed to cease providing any funds from the above noted grant to the WIV," Lauer continued. "This temporary action is authorized by 45 C.F.R. § 75.371 (d) ('Initiate suspension or debarment proceedings as authorized under 2 C.F.R. part 180'). The incorporated OMB provision provides that the federal funding agency, through suspension, immediately and temporarily exclude from Federal programs persons who are not presently responsible where 'immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest.' 2 C.F.R. § 180.700 (c)."

The letter went on to say: "It is in the public interest that NIH ensure that a sub-recipient has taken all appropriate precautions to prevent the release of pathogens that it is studying. This suspension of the sub-recipient does not affect the remainder of your grant assuming that no grant funds are provided to WIV following receipt of this email during the period of suspension."

Earlier this month, Fox News' Bret Baier reported the following:

"There is increasing confidence that the COVID-19 outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory, though not as a bioweapon but as part of China’s attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States, multiple sources who have been briefed on the details of early actions by China’s government and seen relevant materials tell Fox News."

Though the article acknowledged some skepticism, even within the the administration and the epidemiological community, it also said, "what all of the sources agree about is the extensive cover-up of data and information about COVID-19 orchestrated by the Chinese government."

President Donald Trump promised at a coronavirus task force news briefing Monday there would soon be an inquiry into China's role in the spread of the pandemic. He promised China would be held to account.

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has alerted a company that received a $3.7 million U.S. tax-funded grant that it is under investigation for funding work at the lab in Wuhan, China, from which some experts suspect the lethal and widespread coronavirus emerged.
nih, wuhan, virology, lab, grant, funding, halt, investigation, pandemic
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2020-10-27
Monday, 27 April 2020 10:10 PM
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