The Biden Administration Suspends Funding to Wuhan Lab
The Biden administration has taken a significant step by suspending funding to the laboratory in Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 cases were first identified. This decision comes after a new document revealed that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is cutting off the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s access to U.S. grants.
In 2014, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) awarded a grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit focused on researching emerging infectious diseases. The grant funded a project called “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” which involved the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The WIV received over $1.4 million in U.S. government funds for testing under this project, including experiments that made a bat coronavirus more harmful.
However, it was discovered that these experiments violated the terms of the grant. The HHS official stated that the WIV had been given opportunities to contest this conclusion but failed to do so. As a result, the immediate suspension of WIV is necessary to mitigate any potential public health risk.
Temporary Suspension and Potential Debarment
The suspension of funding is temporary, and officials are also considering debarment, which would cut off WIV’s access to U.S. funding for a longer period. Debarment requires a higher evidentiary requirement of wrongdoing. Multiple bills have been proposed to permanently bar U.S. funding to the WIV, but they have not yet cleared Congress.
Lawmakers have raised concerns about risky research conducted at the WIV and the possibility that the lab is the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19. The HHS decision is based on 26 documents, most of which were from January 2022 or earlier.
“It’s past time that the Biden administration made this decision, but they deserve no credit for finally doing what the evidence and facts demanded. It is outrageous that it took them so long,” said Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Brett Guthrie, and Morgan Griffith in a joint statement.
After receiving a notice of proposed debarment, the WIV will have an opportunity to protest the proposal. The final decision will be made by the HHS suspension and debarment official after reviewing the response.
In 2016, U.S. officials informed EcoHealth that provisions were being added to its grant, including…
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