Why NIH funding to the Wuhan laboratory linked to Covid is nolonger possible


The Biden administration has officially banned taxpayer money from being funneled to a controversial Chinese laboratory long suspected of causing the Covid pandemic.

This week, an official statement from the Department of Health and Human Services said the Wuhan Institute of Virology had failed to prove its experiments were safe.

EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit, received $8 million from the National Institutes of Health between 2014 and 2021 to be outsourced to research facilities like WIV, which received about $3.7 million.

HHS said the Wuhan researchers violated the conditions for receiving federal grants because poor biosafety protocols in the laboratory “may have resulted or could result in health problems or other unacceptable outcomes.”

The ban on federal funding to the WIV will last 10 years, which is seven years longer than the average suspension, although this move is unlikely to protect the agency from criticism over its funding of the experiments at all.

The Biden administration announced it would suspend the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)’s access to government funding and issued a 10-year ban after the laboratory failed to provide sufficient documentation of its biosafety protocols and safety measures.

The question of whether the global outbreak started with an overflow of wild animals sold in the market or leaked from the laboratory in Wuhan, just 8 miles (13 kilometers) across the Yangtze River, has sparked fierce debate.  Some studies indicate a natural spillover in the Huanan nature market.  Positive swabs from floors, cages and counters also trace the virus back to stalls in the south-west corner of the market (bottom left), where animals with the potential to harbor Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time (bottom right)

The question of whether the global outbreak started with an overflow of wild animals sold in the market or leaked from the laboratory in Wuhan, just eight miles across the Yangtze River, has sparked fierce debate over how the next pandemic can be prevented. New studies indicate a natural spillover in Huanan’s wildlife market. Positive swabs from floors, cages and counters also trace the virus back to stalls in the south-west corner of the market (bottom left), where animals with the potential to harbor Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time (bottom right)

Pictured: The Wuhan Institute of Virology, where scientists studied bat-derived coronaviruses

Pictured: the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where crucial data was erased by Chinese scientists

It marked a major victory in the eyes of lawmakers who claim the biolab was the origin of the pandemic, with one calling it “an essential and obvious step in the right direction.”

The 10-year ban was first proposed in July, when HHS outlined it the various failures of the Wuhan laboratory to hand over detailed laboratory notebooks and documents on its experiments with bat coronaviruses tested on mice.

According to the Federal Health Service, researchers in Wuhan had conducted experiments with coronaviruses that went beyond what the terms of the grant allowed. It also alleged that the WIV maintained poor biosecurity standards, potentially putting people at risk.

“Due to the WIV’s disregard of NIH requests for the WIV to provide necessary materials to support its research… the NIH’s conclusion stands that WIV research likely violated the WIV’s protocols NIH on Biosafety Unchallenged.

“As such, there is a risk that WIV has not only previously violated NIH protocols on biosafety, but currently violates and will continue to violate NIH protocols on biosafety.”

EcoHealth was not allowed to receive federal subsidies that it would then distribute.

In fact, the Biden administration recently revived a financial alliance between the government and EcoHealth, which would give the latter $2.3 million annually to fund scientific research.

The agreement had been terminated in April 2020 under the Trump administration. But money still flowed to laboratories such as the WIV.

Between 2015 and 2023, at least seven U.S. entities provided NIH grant money to laboratories in China that conduct animal testing, totaling $3,306,061

Between 2015 and 2023, at least seven U.S. entities provided NIH grant money to laboratories in China that conduct animal testing, totaling $3,306,061

British researcher Dr. Peter Daszak, who leads the EcoHealth Alliance, is pictured with Dr. Anthony Fauci

British researcher Dr. Peter Daszak, who leads the EcoHealth Alliance, is pictured with Dr. Anthony Fauci

Virologist Shi Zheng-li, left, works with her colleague in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2017.  Dr.  Li was among the recipients of an HHS notice about withdrawing funding, but she never responded to the agency.

Virologist Shi Zheng-li, left, works with her colleague in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2017. Dr. Li was among the recipients of an HHS notice about withdrawing funding, but she never responded to the agency.

NIH grants recently given to U.S. academic institutions to fund research are often said to be shared with animal testing laboratories abroad, including WIV.

In total, about $15 million in government subsidies was spent on animal testing in foreign laboratories between 2013 and this year.

The message from HHS to WIV was one of several sent by telephone, email, fax and international mail.

The emails could not be delivered to the addresses officials had, the fax number was inactive, and the mailed notice was returned to HHS headquarters in DC.

The formal exclusion notice did not mention the coronavirus as the one that had been manipulated to such an alarming extent.

But that hasn’t stopped proponents of the lab leak theory from seeing this move as confirmation that people at the highest levels of government believe the pandemic started in that lab and flowed from there.

Ohio Republican Congressman Brad Wenstrup said: ‘This is especially timely as mounting evidence and intelligence continue to indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic stemmed from a laboratory error in Wuhan.

Rep. Wenstrup, chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, added: “Rewarding the likely source of a global pandemic with U.S. resources will only lead to more future health risks.”

The lab leak theory has gained significant popularity in recent years as vaccinations and general immunity have brought the public out of the worst days of the pandemic.

This culminated in a Republican-authored congressional report last December that revealed “indications” that the WIV had had a laboratory incident linked to China’s bioweapons program that led to Covid “spreading” to the general public.

The theory has also received support from government agencies.

The Department of Energy believes, albeit with “little confidence,” that the pandemic originated in a laboratory leak. The FBI came to the same conclusion with “moderate” confidence.

But overall, the intelligence community remains divided on this issue.