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article imageOp-Ed: Evidence emerges of Trump's interference in key COVID-19 research

By Tim Sandle     Jun 26, 2020 in Science
A case has been made, based on official government documents, that President Trump has personally interfered in blocking a U.S. collaboration on coronavirus research, aimed at attempting to ascertain the origins of the virus.
Evidence has emerged that Donal Trump has interfered with key coronavirus research because the U.S. laboratory leading the study was collaborating with a Chinese laboratory and the focus of the research - the origin of the coronavirus - does not fit with the narrative that the President is trying to curate in terms of China being wholly responsible and may have even engaged in a deliberate act to release the viruses. Such interference may well tally with the re-election strategy being developed by Trump and his team.
The virologist Dr. Anthony Fauci raised a grant for key viral research a few years ago. This was titled “Understanding the risk of bat coronavirus emergence,” with the research originally funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2014 and subsequently renewed for another five years in 2019. This was after the research paper received an outstanding peer-review score, with the research deemed to be of great value to the scientific community.
The research is currently being supported by EcoHealth Alliance Inc., which is a non-profit organization based in New York. For the research process, EcoHealth Alliance Inc. collaborates with a virologist who works at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China. The focus at the Wuhan laboratory is with bat coronaviruses. The WIV became the center of a conspiracy theory (since disproven, as reported by Digital Journal) that suggested that the pandemic coronavirus originated in or escaped from a lab at the institute.
On April 17, 2020, a reporter brought up that conspiracy theory and EcoHealth’s grant to President Trump during a press conference. The reporter asked the question: “Why would the US give a grant like that to China?” To which Trump responded that “We will end that grant very quickly."
In an email to EcoHealth on April 19, 2020, just two days later, Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director for Extramural Research, reportedly wrote:
"The scientific community believes that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 jumped from bats to humans likely in Wuhan where the COVID-19 pandemic began. There are now allegations that the current crisis was precipitated by the release from Wuhan Institute of Virology of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Given these concerns, we are pursuing suspension of Wuhan Institute of Virology from participation in federal programs."
Consequently, the funding was terminated on April 24. In a termination letter to EcoHealth, the NIH wrote: “At this time, NIH does not believe that the current project outcomes align with the program goals and agency priorities.”
In the view of this journalist, this is an unfortunate case of political interference with valuable research into combating the global pandemic.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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