NIH funded research in Wuhan lab, unrelated to pandemic

The NIH revealed that federal funding was used to study bat coronavirus and said the research was not the source of the pandemic

The National Institute of Health (NIH), the government agency that is responsible for biomedical and public health research, has said that it funded virus-enhancing coronavirus research, after denying the claim for months. It should be noted that Covid-19 is a type of coronavirus and the coronavirus that was reportedly altered, is not Covid-19.

In a letter, the NIH stated that non-profit EcoHealth Alliance altered a bat coronavirus in an experiment and the virus became more infectious than the naturally occurring one. They also said that the organization failed to report all the findings relating to the changes of the virus.

The New York City-based non-profit, which does research to protect people, animals and the environment from emerging infectious diseases, partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, to do the studies in laboratories in Wuhan, China.

In recent months, public health officials, like Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have denied allegations that claimed federal funding was used for coronavirus studies to produce the pandemic.

The agency acknowledges that there was a late submission of the report, but they maintain that the research did not propagate the pandemic.

“Naturally occurring bat coronaviruses studied under the N.I.H. grant are genetically far distant from SARS-CoV-2 and could not possibly have caused the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the Director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, in a statement on Wednesday.

Dr. Fauci stated in an interview with ABC News that neither he nor Dr. Collins lied or misled the public because they were not made aware of the oversight until now.

In 2018 and 2019, EcoHealth Alliance was awarded a multi-year grant by the NIH, which they used to stufy whether or not bat coronavirus could infect humans.

Earlier this year, the Intercept published 900 pages of material relating to the experiments, which included tests to see if a laboratory-altered bat coronavirus was more viral than the original bat coronavirus cells.

However, the report was missing information about the findings that the researchers were required to submit at the end of the grant period in 2019.

In August 2021, an updated progress report was submitted that stated laboratory mice infected with their altered virus became “sicker than those infected with” the naturally occurring one.

Dr. Fauci Testifies To Senate Health Committee On Country's COVID-19 Response
Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images)

The spokesperson for the group, Robbery Kessler, said that EcoHealth Alliance reported data from the study “as soon as we were made aware” back in April 2018 and that the NIH did not indicate if further reviews were needed.

However, the Principal Deputy Director of the NIH, Dr. Lawrence Tabak, said that “out of an abundance of caution,” the NIH had requested for additional information from EcoHealth Alliance. They asked that the organization “notify the agency if the engineered viruses turned out to grow 10 times faster or more” than the naturally occurring ones.

“EcoHealth failed to report this finding right away, as required by the terms of the grant,” Dr. Tabak said.

The large oversight is fueling critics of the NIH, who say that the agency leaders have not been upfront and honest with the public about the research they have supported in China.

It is also fueling more Covid-19 conspiracies which first began in April 2020 when former President Donald Trump made unsubstantiated claims the virus was laboratory-made in Wuhan, China.

The NIH still emphasizes that “the bat coronaviruses studied under the EcoHealth Alliance grant could not have been the source of SARS-CoV-2 and the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Have you subscribed to the Grio podcasts, ‘Dear Culture’ or Acting Up? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!