In a move that some see as a victory for transparency and prudent use of U.S. taxpayer dollars, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has discreetly de-listed the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) from the pool of overseas institutions eligible for U.S.-funded animal research, according to a report from The Epoch Times.
Until the recent update on May 17, the WIV was included among foreign facilities that can carry out animal experiments funded by U.S. taxpayers.
However, it now appears that the institute, at the heart of COVID-19 origin debates, has been dropped from the list that features 27 other Chinese laboratories.
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), who has persistently criticized the NIH’s financial support to the Wuhan laboratory, hailed this change as a significant achievement.
She shared with The Epoch Times, “After years of advocacy, the Wuhan Lab finally appears to no longer be eligible for U.S. funding.”
Ernst noted her concern about how the Wuhan lab had obtained U.S. funding initially and dubbed the situation as an alarming loophole.
She said, “This incident has exposed a huge loophole that is allowing untold sums of U.S. dollars to be secretly spent in institutions in China and elsewhere.”
The Iowa representative emphasized her commitment to ensuring the full transparency of U.S. funds spent in China and preventing any other “batty studies at the expense of taxpayers” from escaping scrutiny.
The WIV has been in a long-standing partnership with EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based organization, conducting bat coronavirus research partly funded by the U.S.
The sum surpassed $3 million between 2014 and 2019.
The controversy centers on the NIH’s funding of contentious virus research at the Wuhan lab, revealing several crucial facts.
Firstly, in 2018 and 2019, the NIH financed experiments at the WIV through EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit.
These experiments resulted in a bat coronavirus being enhanced, potentially increasing its infectiousness in humans.
Next, it surfaced that EcoHealth Alliance had breached the terms of its grant conditions, which mandated reporting if their research increased the viral growth of a pathogen by tenfold.
While the NIH insists that it did not fund gain-of-function research at the WIV, critics allege that the lab could have engineered SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the ongoing pandemic.
In light of these accusations, the NIH initially terminated EcoHealth’s grant, only to reinstate it later under stricter conditions.
Additionally, the WIV has continuously resisted sharing scientific documentation with the NIH and EcoHealth Alliance.