The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has informed a company that used a taxpayer grant to provide U.S. tax dollars to the Wuhan lab in China–from which some authorities believe the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic emanated–that the Wuhan lab is formally being investigated by U.S. officials.
A letter from Dr. Michael Lauer, the NIH’s deputy director for extramural research, to Kevin Olival of EcoHealth Alliance and Naomi Schrag of Columbia University, obtained exclusively by Breitbart News, informs them the matter is under investigation.
“EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. is the recipient, as grantee, of an NIH grant entitled ‘Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergency,’” Lauer wrote in the letter, dated April 19. “It is our understanding that one of the sub-recipients of the grant funds is the Wuhan Institute of Virology (‘WIV’). It is our understanding that WIV studies the interaction between corona viruses and bats. The scientific community believes that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 jumped from bats to humans likely in Wuhan where the COVID-19 pandemic began. There are now allegations that the current crisis was precipitated by the release from WIV of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Given these concerns, we are pursuing suspension of WIV from participation in Federal programs.”
The letter continues in the next paragraph by further explaining the investigation.
“While we review these allegations during the period of suspension, you are instructed to cease providing any funds from the above noted grant to the WIV,” Lauer continues. “This temporary action is authorized by 45 C.F.R. § 75.371 (d) (‘Initiate suspension or debarment proceedings as authorized under 2 C.F.R. part 180’). The incorporated OMB provision provides that the federal funding agency, through suspension, immediately and temporarily exclude from Federal programs persons who are not presently responsible where ‘immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest.’ 2 C.F.R. § 180.700 (c).”
In the next paragraph, the NIH official confirms this is under investigation formally. “It is in the public interest that NIH ensure that a sub-recipient has taken all appropriate precautions to prevent the release of pathogens that it is studying,” Lauer wrote. “This suspension of the sub-recipient does not affect the remainder of your grant assuming that no grant funds are provided to WIV following receipt of this email during the period of suspension.”
This letter has not been publicly revealed until his report here in Breitbart News. An NIH spokesman told Breitbart News about this letter: “NIH does not discuss details of the decision making process regarding specific grant awards.”
The NIH official did note that the $3.7 million grant in question has been spread over multiple installments for six years, at a wide range of sites worldwide including in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar.This grant in particular, the NIH official said, is a multi-site, multi-country grant to study what allows coronaviruses to evolve and infect humans–what is known as a “spillover event.”
The White House has not immediately replied to a request for comment about this NIH probe of the Wuhan lab, but at Monday’s White House press briefing in the Rose Garden President Trump–in response to a broader question from Breitbart News about China–promised “investigation” into China’s role in the spread of the pandemic soon.
There have been several reports in recent weeks about the prevailing wisdom among U.S. intelligence officials being that the virus emanated from the Wuhan virology lab rather than from a Chinese wet market, the original claim when the pandemic first broke out.
Fox News’s Bret Baier reported earlier in April, for instance:
There is increasing confidence that the COVID-19 outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory, though not as a bioweapon but as part of China’s attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States, multiple sources who have been briefed on the details of early actions by China’s government and seen relevant materials tell Fox News. This may be the “costliest government cover-up of all time,” one of the sources said. The sources believe the initial transmission of the virus – a naturally occurring strain that was being studied there – was bat-to-human and that “patient zero” worked at the laboratory, then went into the population in Wuhan. The ‘increasing confidence’ comes from classified and open-source documents and evidence, the sources said. Fox News has requested to see the evidence directly. Sources emphasized — as is often the case with intelligence — that it’s not definitive and should not be characterized as such. Some inside the administration and the intelligence and epidemiological communities are more skeptical, and the investigation is continuing. What all of the sources agree about is the extensive cover-up of data and information about COVID-19 orchestrated by the Chinese government.
The U.K. Daily Mail, too, back in early April, revealed the existence of the U.S. taxpayer funds that found their way to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Chinese laboratory at the center of scrutiny over a potential coronavirus leak has been using U.S. government money to carry out research on bats from the caves which scientists believe are the original source of the deadly outbreak,” the Daily Mail’s Frances Mulraney and Glenn Owen wrote. “The Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on mammals captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan which were funded by a $3.7 million grant from the US government. Sequencing of the COVID-19 genome has traced it back to bats found in Yunnan caves but it was first thought to have transferred to humans at an animal market in Wuhan. The revelation that the Wuhan Institute was experimenting on bats from the area already known to be the source of COVID-19 – and doing so with American money – has sparked further fears that the lab, and not the market, is the original outbreak source.
For that story in the Daily Mail, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) weighed in saying that he was appalled that U.S. taxpayer dollars went to such a thing as this. Gaetz said:
I’m disgusted to learn that for years the US government has been funding dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute, which may have contributed to the global spread of coronavirus, and research at other labs in China that have virtually no oversight from US authorities.
The grant that the Daily Mail story uncovered is a $3.7 million grant issued to EcoHealth Alliance Inc. via HHS, specifically from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has gained enormous fame during the coronavirus crisis at President Donald Trump’s side, has been the director of NIAID since 1984. As this letter from Dr. Lauer at NIH as well as a piece in Snopes revealed, not all of the $3.7 million grant—which began in 2014 during former President Barack Obama’s administration and continued until 2019 during President Trump’s administration—went to the Wuhan lab but some of EcoHealth’s grant did end up in the hands of researchers digging into bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.