The Biden administration’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) has sparked outrage by renewing a $2.3 million taxpayer-funded grant to EcoHealth Alliance for research on bat coronaviruses, according to a report from the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
The non-profit organization, led by British zoologist Peter Daszak, was at the center of the COVID-19 lab leak theory when former President Donald Trump suspended the grant in April 2020.
The grant was initially terminated after it was discovered that NIH had funneled U.S. taxpayer dollars through EcoHealth to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
The WIV is known for conducting gain-of-function research, a process that involves the intentional alteration of viruses to make them more infectious or deadly.
According to U.S. intelligence assessments, the COVID-19 virus likely originated from the Wuhan lab, Daily Mail notes.
Three years after the suspension, the Biden administration has decided to renew the NIH grant, allocating $2.3 million in taxpayer funds to EcoHealth over the next four years for bat-origin coronavirus research.
This decision has been met with strong criticism from members of Congress.
A report by House Republican lawmakers on the Intelligence Committee, released last December, suggested that there were “indications” of a lab incident at the WIV, which may have been connected to China’s biological weapons program, leading to COVID-19 “spilling over” into the general public.
FBI Director Chris Wray confirmed these suspicions in a March interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier: “The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan. Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”
Recent reports also indicate that the Department of Energy believes the pandemic has man-made origins.
EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak defended the grant renewal in a statement to DailyMail.com, asserting that the funding would be used exclusively for lab work and the analysis of samples and sequences already collected at the WIV and other institutes worldwide.
Daszak has also denied allegations that the WIV performed gain-of-function research using funds provided by EcoHealth.
Under the terms of the grant renewal, EcoHealth has agreed not to subcontract work to China, collect new virus samples from the wild, or carry out gain-of-function research.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which supports research at NIH, has consistently denied that the government agency funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan, according to Daily Mail.