Questions are being raised as to why it took three years to pull the plug on US funding to the Chinese lab at the center of the Covid lab leak cover-up.
Former President Donald Trump said in early April 2020 that he had seen evidence that the pandemic was born from dangerous experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), and since then a number of damning reports, leaks and circumstantial evidence have led the FBI and at least one other government agency to publicly support the ‘lab leak theory’.
Yet US taxpayer money continued to flow through the WIV during the pandemic to identify and study dangerous viruses. It wasn’t until this Monday that the Biden administration finally announced it was suspending WIV’s access to US research grants, saying it was necessary to ‘protect the public interest’.
Critics have suggested that the White House’s reluctance to cancel all funding and fully condemn China during the pandemic is due to the US government’s fraught relationship with Chinese research institutes, which have enjoyed potentially millions in US funding over the years.
There is also a sense that Trump’s initial endorsement of the hypothesis has made the Biden administration and the political establishment slow to come around to the idea of a lab leak. Biden described Trump as ‘flagrantly xenophobic’ in 2020 for claiming the lab was a possible source of the pandemic.
The Biden administration finally announced on Monday that it was suspending the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s (WIV) access to government funding and proposed a long-term ban after the lab failed to provide adequate documentation on its biosafety protocols and safeguards.
The White Coat Waste Project, a taxpayer watchdog group, told Newstimesuk.com that Biden’s decision to pull funding was ‘long overdue’ – but noted that the administration’s proposal is a ten-year ban rather than a permanent moratorium.
Dr Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University and Lab Leak supporter, told Newstimesuk.com: ‘This move was both late – three years late – and inadequate.
‘The answers are indifference and indifference in the White House, incompetence at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and obstruction by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).’
Exactly how much US funding went to WIV is unclear because donations were funneled through third-party research groups.
Records indicate that the NIH, America’s public research-funding body, first established an indirect relationship with the Wuhan lab in 2014.
In June of that year, NIH and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded $4.3 million to the New York nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, $3.7 million of which came from NIH’s infectious disease arm, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), led by longtime public servant Dr.
Titled Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence – the project spanned five years and had one objective ‘to find out if there are any coronaviruses… in China’s bat population that have the potential to infect people.’
‘The overall goal of this work is to help design vaccines and therapeutics against potential future emerging viruses, determine which communities are on the front lines of a potential new outbreak, and reduce their risk of becoming infected by analyzing their risk behaviors,’ the grant adds.
$4.3m is distributed among various research facilities across Asia and Africa. At least $600,000 went directly to WIV between 2014 and May 2019.
The 2014 research grant was issued months before then-President Barack Obama outlawed ‘gain of function’ (GOF) research in the US, a loosely defined term for controversial experiments that make viruses more virulent or infectious.
The supposed purpose of the gain of function is to proceed from natural evolution and to understand and develop knowledge, drugs and vaccines for future virus outbreaks.
But the danger is that experts create a virus that may not occur naturally or pose a threat to humans and release it by accident.
Although the terms of the NIH grant state that the funds cannot be used for GOF research, records show that scientists working in Wuhan under a US government contract conducted experiments that many say constitute GOF.
On two occasions, US-sponsored WIV scientists submitted summaries of studies showing that when three modified bat coronaviruses were placed in the lungs of genetically engineered mice, they multiplied much faster than the original virus on which they were based.
The viruses appeared to be more virulent, causing one of the mice to lose weight significantly.
The researchers wrote: ‘These results demonstrate the different pathogenicity of SARSr-CoV with different spike proteins in humanized mice.’
Both the NIH and EcoHealth said the findings had been reported to the agency, and the NIH said the rules limiting gain-of-function research did not apply.
However, a report this year by the government’s spending watchdog found that NIH EcoHealth failed to ‘understand the nature of the research, identify potential problem areas and take corrective action’.
“With improved oversight, NIH may be able to take more timely corrective actions to reduce the inherent risks associated with this type of research,” the report added.
The EcoHealth Alliance, led by British zoologist Peter Daszak, has funded research into manipulated coronaviruses in Wuhan – the Chinese city where the epidemic began. EcoHealth Alliance boss Peter Daszak, shown left, is known to be close to Dr. Anthony Fauci (right).
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has long been suspected as the source of the Covid pandemic, but the CIA has been unable to confirm the reports. The FBI and the Department of Energy have already concluded that the ‘lab leak’ theory is the most likely.
Virologist Shi Zheng-li, left, works with his colleague at the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2017
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured) launched a secret research initiative that saw them fuse coronaviruses in a series of risky experiments.
President Joe Biden ordered an intelligence review in March 2021 into whether Covid leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, the Associated Press reported.
It concluded that there were ‘two possible scenarios’ that caused the epidemic: either an animal-to-human transmission or a lab leak.
With the results presented in May, the president ordered agencies to ‘redouble’ their efforts and report back within 90 days – or by the end of July.
In August, it was revealed that US agencies were divided on the origin of the coronavirus in their reports.
A summary published at the time said the four agencies believed with ‘low confidence’ that the virus was primarily transmitted from animals to humans.
A fifth believed with ‘moderate confidence’ that the first human infection was linked to a lab.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) noted at the time that China was ‘obstructing global investigations, preventing information sharing and blaming other countries, including the United States’.
In June this year, a four-page intelligence report on the origin of Covid was released which said the lab leak theory could not be ruled out.
They also added that there has been ‘extensive work’ on the coronavirus at WIV.
FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed in February that his agency supported the lab leak theory.
In his first public comment on the origin of the virus in an interview with Fox News, he said that ‘the FBI has assessed for some time that the origin of the epidemic is likely a possible lab incident in Wuhan’.
Just a few days ago the Department of Energy also reported with ‘low confidence’ that they believed Covid originated in a Chinese lab.
Yesterday the Biden administration suspended all funding for WIV after the lab failed to provide documentation related to concerns about violations of biosafety protocols. At the same time, HHS also said it wants to prevent Chinese research firms from participating in government activities.
HHS said a review had been underway at WIV for several months that found the lab was ‘not in compliance with federal regulations and is not currently responsible’. They added that it has not received any US public money since July 2020.
Intelligence agencies can make assessments with low, medium or high confidence. A low confidence rating means that the information obtained is not reliable enough or is too fragmented, while medium confidence means that the intel is reliably sourced and credible but more work is still needed.
The release of reports on the origins of Covid comes after Biden signed a bill in March this year that would require the release of all research into the origins of Covid. He said this is to help efforts to identify the source of the Covid pandemic.
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