This action aims to ensure that WIV [the Wuhan Institute of Virology] does not receive another dollar of federal funding.United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson in a statement after it was made public that the Biden administration is suspending funding to a lab in Wuhan, China.
What To Know: On Tuesday, a memo made public by a U.S. House subcommittee investigating the origins of COVID-19 laid out reasons as to why the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) is suspending funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (a lab in China that some federal agencies believe is potentially the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic).
- The HHS official who wrote the memo (whose name is redacted) explains how the National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded a grant for a years-long project called "Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence" to a U.S.-based organization called EcoHealth, which sub-granted some of the funding to the WIV in order to conduct further research. This project began in 2014, and further funding was approved for the organization in 2019 in order "to investigate more divergent animal viruses." In accepting this funding from the U.S. federal government, the HHS official explains that the awardee (and sub-awardees) must comply with specific reporting requirements regarding their research.
- As concerns arose that the WIV was "in violation of the terms of the grant" due to nonadherence to the biosafety requirements of the NIH, the "NIH requested materials to be provided to support WIV's research on at least two documented occasions," the HHS official writes. The memo (dated on Monday) reads, "To date, the NIH has not received the requested materials from WIV or EcoHealth (as the pass-through entity on behalf of WIV). … it appears that WIV's failure to respond to NIH's request, which was necessary to review allegations that WIV has not satisfied biosafety requirements under the grant, reflect that WIV is not compliant with federal regulations and is not presently responsible."
- The HHS official notes that HHS believes "that immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest," later writing, "I have determined that the immediate suspension of [funding to] WIV is necessary to mitigate any potential public health risk."
Important To Note: "The institute, which has not received any federal money since 2020, now has 30 days to respond to the notice," The Hill reports.
Read the full memo HERE
by Jenna Lee,