The Wuhan Institute of Virology – the China lab U.S. intelligence has tied to the worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus – received U.S. funding from 2014 to 2019 for studies on bat-based coronaviruses and is eligible to receive American taxpayer funding through January 2024, the Daily Caller reported, citing the National Institutes of Health.
The WIV received $600,000 of U.S. government funding through the New York-based non-profit group EcoHealth Alliance, the Daily Caller said.
EcoHealth President Peter Daszak, the only American who was part of the World Health Organization's delegation that visited China to investigate the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 in January and February, said the U.S. should accept WHO's preliminary conclusion it was highly unlikely the lab was involved.
The statement was dismissed by the former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who characterized it as "really disingenuous."
Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disclosed in January, based on U.S. intelligence, workers at the lab were infected by the novel coronavirus in August 2019, months before the first public cases were disclosed.
Ratcliffe also stated the "Chinese military ordered scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to experiment with coronaviruses starting as far back as 2017," and "some of those viruses were 96.2% genetically similar to the current COVID-19 virus."
Daszak told the Daily Caller that U.S. intelligence should not be trusted.
EcoHealth was given a $3.4 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported in August, which added the nonprofit used with the WIV to study coronaviruses in bats roosting in caves in China and how the viruses infect people.
The National Institutes of Health terminated the grant in April after there was criticism over EcoHealth's ties with the WIV. In a letter, the NIH said EcoHealth's work in China did not align with "program goals and agency priorities."
But, in July, the NIH told the grant would be restored under certain conditions, among which was to arrange for an independent team to determine if the WIV had possession of the SARS-COV-2 virus before the first known cases in December 2019.
Daszak told NPR the NIH's conditions were "preposterous."
"I'm not trained as a private detective," Daszak said. "It's not really my job to do that."
The WIV lab currently has an "Foreign Assurance" active on file with the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, which keeps it eligible to receive U.S. government funds, the Daily Caller confirmed. That assurance is set to expire Jan. 31, 2024.
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