All U.S. federal funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the Chinese lab suspected to be the origin of COVID-19, has been suspended, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The recent HHS letter points out that the lab “was an active NIH grant subrecipient from 2014 through 2020. WIV’s refusal to acknowledge or provide any information regarding this violation to the United States Government … constitutes an aggravating factor.”
Almost two years have passed since NIH requested WIV to provide the necessary materials, including original laboratory notebook entries, it said.
The HHS had tried to send an email to WIV on July 17, informing about the funding suspension. However, emails sent to WIV’s addresses returned “undeliverable” while the agency was unable to send the notice via fax.
A day later, HHS successfully sent emails to WIV’s current and former Principal Investigators. WIV did not contest the notice of suspension within 30 days of receipt of the emails.
“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,” said the letter.
Based on the seriousness of the misconduct, the HHS determined a “ten-year debarment period for WIV is necessary to protect the Government’s interests.” The debarment will remain effective until July 16, 2033. The ban is three times longer than the usual punishment given in such circumstances.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, welcomed the HHS decision.
“The Wuhan Institute of Virology should not receive another cent of U.S. taxpayer funding. After years of conducting dangerous gain-of-function research at inadequate biosafety levels, cutting off all American taxpayer dollars from the WIV is an essential and obvious step in the right direction,” he said in a Sept. 20 statement.
COVID-19 Lab Origin, CIA Cover-UpThe lab origin theory for COVID-19 has support from FBI Director Chris Wray.
“I will just make the observation that the Chinese government, it seems to me, has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work here, the work that we're doing, the work that our U.S. government and close foreign partners are doing. And that's unfortunate for everybody.”
On Sept. 12, a whistleblower revealed to the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that out of the seven members assigned to a CIA team tasked with looking into the origins of COVID-19, six concluded the virus likely came from a lab in Wuhan.
“The CIA, then however, allegedly offered financial incentives to six of the experts involved in the investigation to change their conclusion in favor of a zoonotic origin,” according to a Sept. 12 press release by the House Oversight committee.
On Sept. 14, multiple House committees wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra with renewed requests for documents and communications related to EcoHealth and WIV, warning that if the agency did not deliver the material within the deadlines, the committees may issue subpoenas to obtain them.
The letter requested voluntary transcribed interviews from multiple individuals, including Mr. Greg Folkers—who served as Dr. Anthony Fauci’s chief of staff.
“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,” Mr. Wenstrup said in his Sept. 20 statement.
“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.”