Health Care

Biden administration suspends funding to Wuhan lab

A view of the P4 lab and the Wuhan Institute of Virology is seen after a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The Biden administration is suspending all federal funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the Chinese lab at the center of a controversy over the origins of the coronavirus, according to a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that was made public by a House subcommittee.

The memo from an HHS official said the facility has repeatedly refused to provide documents and answer questions from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) about safety and security. HHS also told the lab it’s seeking to cut off funding permanently.

The memo, dated Monday, was first reported by Bloomberg.

The Wuhan Institute “likely violated protocols of the NIH regarding biosafety is undisputed,” wrote the official, whose name was redacted. “As such, there is risk that WIV not only previously violated, but is currently violating, and will continue to violate, protocols of the NIH on biosafety.”

The institute, which has not received any federal money since 2020, now has 30 days to respond to the notice. 

“Therefore, I have determined that the immediate suspension of WIV is necessary to mitigate any potential public health risk,” the HHS official wrote. 

The document was made public by the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, which has been probing the administration’s grants to the Wuhan Institute. Republican members of the panel have insisted the virus was manufactured in the Chinese facility with the aid of U.S. funding and spread worldwide because of a lab leak.

Much of the attention has been focused on EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based organization that received a 2014 grant from NIH that was partly sub-granted to the Wuhan Institute.

The U.S. intelligence community has yet to reach a conclusion about where the virus originated. At the same time, China has blocked international scientists from exploring all possibilities about the virus’s origin.

NIH officials have asserted that no taxpayer funds were used for research that could have supercharged a coronavirus and caused the pandemic, but they have also admitted they don’t know the full extent of research being conducted in Wuhan.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic Joe Biden Wuhan

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