US cuts off funding to Wuhan institute linked with Covid outbreak: Report | World News - Hindustan Times
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US cuts off funding to Wuhan institute linked with Covid outbreak: Report

Jul 19, 2023 07:49 AM IST

Penalising the lab is the most drastic measure that the US has taken over biosafety practices in China.

The Joe Biden administration halted the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s access to federal funding after the lab failed to provide documents about safety and security measures, Bloomberg News reported. The Department of Health and Human Services told the lab that it’s seeking to cut it off permanently after a review that began last September. The facility, based in Wuhan, isn’t compliant with federal regulations and it won’t receive any more federal funding.

The lab hasn’t received money from the National Institutes of Health since July 2020.(Reuters)
The lab hasn’t received money from the National Institutes of Health since July 2020.(Reuters)

The lab hasn’t received money from the National Institutes of Health since July 2020 but penalising the lab is the most drastic measure that the US has taken over biosafety practices in China amid ongoing investigations into Covid origins.

The institute became a flashpoint in discussions of how the pandemic started. FBI director Christopher Wray suspected that the virus could have originated at the facility even though the US hasn’t found any conclusive evidence that the virus emerged either through animal-to-human transmission or a lab accident.

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Following the decision, the lab won’t be able to conduct any business with US as an agent or representative of others. The Wuhan lab can contest the suspension and proposed debarment. However, this is unlikely, Bloomberg reported.

In 2014, EcoHealth Alliance, a US-based organization focused on preventing infectious diseases was given a grant for “understanding the risk of bat coronavirus emergence.” The Wuhan Institute of Virology received the grant and EcoHealth Alliance also funneled US Agency for International Development funds to the lab.

Last month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified report that identified safety and security issues at the institute.

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