• Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Last Updated: September 21, 2023, 10:27 IST

Washington D.C., United States of America (USA)

Former researcher from Wuhan Institute of Virology asserts that China deliberately engineered coronavirus as a bioweapon. (Image: Reuters File)

US suspends Wuhan Institute of Virology’s funding for 10 years amid Covid-19 lab leak suspicions. Latest updates on the pandemic origin

A US federal agency has announced that it has officially banned China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) from receiving funding for the next 10 years. Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of the Office of Health and Human Services sent a letter to WIV Director General Dr. Yanyi Wang informing her that the lab will be denied US research grants until July 16, 2033.

This decision comes as US media reports suggest the Covid-19 pandemic leaked out of a Chinese lab, possibly the Wuhan Institute, which conducted risky gain-of-function experiments on bat coronaviruses, according to The New York Post (NYP).

Brad Wenstrup, the US House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman, released a redacted copy of the letter on Wednesday. “This is especially timely as mounting evidence and intelligence continue to suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from a laboratory failure in Wuhan,” Wenstrup said. “Rewarding the likely source of a global pandemic with American resources will only lead to more future health risks.”

“Further, the Select Subcommittee recently revealed that prominent public health authorities — including Dr. Anthony Fauci — knew about the risky laboratory conditions in Wuhan prior to the spread of COVID-19 worldwide,” he added. “Covering up for the failures of a Chinese lab, hiding critical evidence from the American people, and facilitating the public promotion of a false, alternative narrative is extremely concerning and deserves thorough investigation.”

The letter by the Department of Health and Human Services (NHS) claims that unsuccessfully attempts had been made to contact the lab about HHS’s decision to suspend funding in the month of July. This comes after the US agency earlier said it found the WIV had “conducted an experiment yielding a level of viral activity which was greater than permitted under the terms of the grant,” which was for the study of bat coronaviruses.

“WIV has not acknowledged the violations, has not cooperated with the Government to address the violations, has not accepted responsibility for the violations, and, therefore, presumably has taken no action to eliminate the risk to the Government in conducting business transactions with WIV presently or into the future,” the letter states, according to The Post. This decision to ban Wuhan lab is deemed significant as a typical debarment period for a research institution is usually three years.

According to a US government report released in June, American taxpayers shelled out more than USD 2,168,345 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Chinese research institutions from 2014 to 2021. Over USD 1.4 million of those funds went to the Wuhan Institute via subgrants allocated by the Manhattan-based EcoHealth Alliance.

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