NIH payments to the Wuhan Institute of Virology

By Andy May

On April 17th, Newsmax reporter Emerald Robinson asked President Trump if the NIH (the United States National Institute of Health) gave a grant of $3.7 million to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2015 during the Obama administration. It turns out, the original grant was given to a non-profit called the EcoHealth Alliance in 2014. It was EcoHealth that gave some of the $3.7 million to the Wuhan Laboratory. EcoHealth is a global environmental organization that is “dedicated to a ‘One Health’ approach to protecting the health of people, animals and the environment from emerging infectious diseases,” according to their website.

Figure 1. Emerald Robinson of Newsmax TV

The President of the organization is Dr. Peter Daszak. Dr. Daszak is originally from the U.K. where he received his B.Sc. in Zoology and a Ph.D in parasitology. He is not a medical doctor. Since school he has focused mostly on emerging diseases, especially those that originate from animals. He has also studied the effect of disease on animal populations.

He does not believe that the COVID-19 virus came from the Wuhan laboratory and once called the idea “baloney.” He has had a long association with the Wuhon laboratory and admitted to “working with that lab for 15 years.” He offers no evidence it did not come from the laboratory, nor does he offer an alternative explanation, it is just his opinion. He does say that the lab had no “cultured virus” that is related to SARS coronavirus 2 (the COVID-19 virus) but does not say how he knows that. He does say that genes in the virus appear to be related to viruses that have come from bats. This does not mean that the original human infection did not occur in the laboratory, it just means the origin of the virus may have been from a bat.

Dr. Daszak claims the Wuhan Virology laboratory is a biosecure lab, with very high-tech, sophisticated security systems. This opinion is at odds with U.S. State Department officials, including Jamison Fouss, the consul general in Wuhan and Rick Switzer, the embassy’s counselor of environment. They warned about inadequate safety precautions taken at the lab. Their last visit to the lab was March 27, 2018 and after the visit they sent two diplomatic cables to Washington warning that the lab was not secure and that the work the lab was doing on bat coronaviruses threatened human safety.

The Washington Post comments that while the SARS coronavirus 2 is not an “engineered” virus, that is not the same as saying it did not come from the Wuhan lab.

The 3.7 million dollars

The original grant of money had the identification number (NIAID R01AI110964). When we draw up the information on this grant we find:

Figure 2. The details of the NIH grant to EcoHealth Alliance Inc. Click on the image to see it at the source.

As we can see in Figure 1 the grants to EcoHealth Alliance sum to $3,748,715. If you have trouble reading this, click on the image to see it on the Health and Human Services TAGGS government web site. A portion of these funds were given to the Wuhan Virology laboratory by the EcoHealth Alliance which worked closely with the Wuhan lab. The identification number given above and in Figure 2 can be seen on page 2 (upper left side) of a paper published by a scientist from the lab. You can download this paper here, where I’ve highlighted the number. The senior author, Ben Hu, works at the Wuhan lab and Peter Daszak is one of the co-authors. The paper is on SARS related coronaviruses from bats.

These funds were appropriated by the NIH in 2014, under the Obama administration, and some of the payments were actually made, as continuations of the original grant, under the Trump administration. But as we have seen with the Ukrainian problems last year, the Trump administration has found cutting off funding that was authorized by the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress is difficult to say the least. He was impeached for trying to delay previously authorized spending, just imagine what might happen if he ended any funding. He has little control over spending once it is authorized and approved.

Discussion

The EcoHealth Alliance also gave portions of these funds to labs in Australia and Singapore. It seems clear that this New York based organization was simply a non-profit “front” to get U.S. grant money to overseas organizations. I find any government funding of research a problem because it unnecessarily politicizes scientific research. This is how the whole climate change mess started after all. But if we are to fund research with government money, the money should be spent in the U.S.

Unfortunately, according to SNOPES, it is not unusual for U.S. tax dollars to fund research overseas, including $2.5 million to China. Now we see a perfect example of this money possibly contributing to this pandemic. Truly horrifying.