White House abruptly cut off funding to coronavirus grant research, Dr Fauci says
Dr. Anthony Fauci leaves a hearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Trade: Getty Images
The White House abruptly stopped funding the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) coronavirus research, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Facui made the revelation when he spoke to Congress on Tuesday about fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Representative Marc Veasey, a Texas democrat, first asked Mr. Fauci why funds were cut in April during a House Energy & Commerce hearing.
"Why was it canceled? It was canceled because the NIH was instructed to cancel it, ”said Dr. Fauci. "I don't know the reason, but we were asked to cancel it."
The Trump administration abruptly cut funding for a research grant to the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance in April, with more than $ 350,000 included in the group's 2020 grant.
After the hearing, Dr. Fauci told Politico that it was the White House that asked the NIH to cancel this grant. When contacted, the White House said it was funding the program, but it was ultimately up to the Ministry of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make the final decision.
"The scholarship holder did not comply with the NIH's scholarship policy," an HHS spokesman told Politico, but declined to comment further on the decision.
The grant was canceled after reports of research by EcoHealth Alliances appeared at a virologist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China who worked with bat coronaviruses.
This laboratory became the center of a conspiracy theory in which the US government speculated that Covid-19 was not created on a damp market in Wuhan, but in WIV.
During a press conference on coronavirus on April 17, a reporter asked why the United States would grant China a grant in the face of this pandemic, with rumors that the virus was in circulation.
"We will end this grant very quickly," President Donald Trump replied.
The grant then ended on April 24 and the NIH wrote to the EcoHealth Alliance: "Currently, the NIH does not believe the current project results are in line with the agency's program objectives and priorities."
Gerald Keusch, former director of the NIH's Fogarty International Center, previously described canceling the scholarship funding as "the most counterproductive I can imagine," Science Magazine said.
The decision has been criticized by many health research professionals because no evidence has confirmed the theory of laboratory conspiracy.
Peter Daszak, President of EcoHealth, tweeted Tuesday that it was an "obvious case of political interference" after Dr. Fauci had given testimony before Congress.
"Ultimately, we will all know the bad truth about how a conspiracy theory put forward by this government caused @NIHDirector to block the only US research group still working in China to analyze Covid's origins," he wrote. "Thanks to this, China can now do research, we can't!"
Virologists in the Wuhan laboratory have long claimed that the virus broke out of the facility.
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