During a White House press briefing, a reporter claimed the Obama administration gave the virology lab in Wuhan $3.7 million in grant money in 2015. Various news reports, relying on the nonprofit White Coat Waste Project, also reported similar numbers. This is incorrect. The National Institutes of Health gave roughly $3.4 million to EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit research group, over the course of 6 years, including under the Trump administration. Of that $3.4 million, less than $600,000 was sent to the lab in Wuhan, EcoHealth Alliance spokesman Robert Kessler told PolitiFact.
Back in 2015, when Barack Obama was president, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sent a $3.7 million grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab that grew coronaviruses and injected them into animals. It is quite feasible that the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 global pandemic leaked from that lab, and U.S. Intelligence sources have been saying that the virus came from a Level-4 lab in Wuhan. During his coronavirus press conference on Friday, President Donald Trump pledged to stop the funding.
“Why would the U.S. give a grant like that to China?” a reporter asked.
“The Obama administration gave them a grant of $3.7 million, I’ve been hearing about that, and we’ve instructed that if any grant going to that area — we’re looking at it, literally, about an hour ago — and also early in the morning, we will end that grant very quickly,” Trump said. “But it was granted quite a while ago. They were granted quite a substantial amount of money.”
He asked the reporter when the grant was given, and she said the NIH granted it in 2015.
“Who was president, then, I wonder?” Trump quipped.
Who, indeed? Why none other than Barack Obama.
Last Friday, the conservative-leaning animal rights organization White Coat Waste Project alerted The Washington Examiner to the grant, and intelligence sources began to converge on the Wuhan lab earlier this week.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, the most advanced laboratory of its kind on the Chinese mainland, is based a mere twenty miles from the infamous wildlife market which was originally thought to be the location of the transfer of the virus from animals to humans. The sequencing of the coronavirus genome has traced the virus back to bats found in Yunnan caves. The Wuhan Institute was experimenting on bats from the area already known to be the source of COVID-19.
Naturally, the revelation that American taxpayers bankrolled the lab that may be responsible for the virus caused no little consternation.
“When I learned our government was spending taxpayers’ money at China’s disgusting wet markets to buy and slaughter cats and dogs for cruel experiments, I helped lead the successful effort to stop it last year,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “I’m disgusted now to learn that, for years, the U.S. government has been funding dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which may have contributed to the global spread of coronavirus, and research at other labs in China that have virtually no oversight from U.S. authorities.”
“It’s unnecessary and unacceptable for American taxpayers to fund these institutions, and it has to end now,” Gaetz said.
The White Coat Waste Project praised Trump’s decision to cut the Wuhan lab funding.
“We applaud President Donald Trump for taking swift and decisive action to ensure that American taxpayers are not forced to pay for wasteful and treacherous animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” the project’s founder and president, Anthony Bellotti, said in a statement. “Just one week ago, White Coat Waste Project released a blockbuster exposé, which revealed to the world how the National Institutes of Health had given China’s sloppy, state-run bio-agent laboratory part of a $3.7 million taxpayer-funded grant for dangerous animal experiments on coronavirus-infected bats—experiments that put human lives at risk.”
“Thanks to the outstanding leadership of President Trump, Congressman Matt Gaetz, and Senator Martha McNally, this misuse of taxpayer dollars is over,” Bellotti added.
Obama’s defenders consistently claim his administration had no scandals. Let’s see them try to deny that funding the Wuhan lab where the Chinese Wuhan coronavirus may have originated is a scandal.
"2015? Who was President then, I wonder?"@realDonaldTrump says they'll end a reported $3.5M grant "very quickly" that was given to a lab near Wuhan that the virus is being suspected of leaking out of.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) April 18, 2020
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.