Trump stands by China lab origin theory for virus
President Trump’s administration abruptly withdraws funding for a project with a group of scientists studying spread from bats to people after reports linked the work to a lab in Wuhan, China, at the center of conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic’s origins. Despite Trump’s attacks, the US group doing the research defended the Wuhan lab.
The National Institutes of Health on Friday told EcoHealth Alliance, the study’s sponsor for the past five years, that all future funding was cut. The agency also demanded that the New York-based research nonprofit stop spending the $369,819 remaining from its 2020 grant, according to emails obtained by POLITICO.
The cancellation of the grant after more than a decade of work in this field seems to be tied to EcoHealth Alliance’s partnership with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the biomedical lab at the heart of conspiracy theories that the Chinese government created or unleashed the virus or the unproven thesis that the outbreak started with an accident because of faulty safety standards in the lab.
Report from BBC News reveals that the White House on Thursday, Mr Trump was asked by a reporter: “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?” “Yes, I have. Yes, I have,” said the president, without specifying. “And I think the World Health Organization [WHO] should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China.” Asked later to clarify his comment, he said: “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
He also told reporters: “Whether they [China] made a mistake, or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose?”I don’t understand how traffic, how people weren’t allowed into the rest of China, but they were allowed into the rest of the world. That’s a bad, that’s a hard question for them to answer.”
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters, FILELast Friday’s termination letter came after NIH asked EcoHealth Alliance not to send any more funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology earlier this month, according to the source. The group had halted funding, but largely because the pandemic had put a halt to nearly all its research operations.