A claim that the Obama administration gave almost $4 million to a Wuhan research facility has gained traction online, however, the actual story is different.
According to Yahoo News, the claim that the U.S. government helped fund research into coronaviruses, spread after a Daily Mail report said it obtained documents showing the Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on mammals captured in Yunnan.
The report added that the Obama administration funded coronavirus research in China. However, the truth is a grant overseen by the National Institutes of Health was provided to the EcoHealth Alliance. The grant continued under the Trump administration until it was recently rescinded.
The EcoHealth Alliance is a nongovernmental research group that focuses on emerging diseases caused by human and animal interactions. The NIH has funded the alliance since 2002.
In 2014, the NIH approved a grant to the alliance designated for research into “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.”
The project involved collaborating with researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study coronaviruses in bats and the risk of potential transfer to humans. The project was created “to understand what factors allow coronaviruses, including close relatives to SARS, to evolve and jump into the human population.”
The original five-year grant was reapproved by the Trump administration in July 2019. The effort spent $3,378,896 and resulted in 20 scientific reports on how zoonotic diseases may transfer from bats to humans.
The Daily Mail reported April 11, the research was funded by a $3.7 million grant from the Obama administration and the claim quickly gained traction.
“For years, the US government has been funding cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which may have contributed to the global spread of COVID-19,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., tweeted April 13.
Gaetz praised President Trump for ending the program on Fox News.
When a reporter asked Trump about the grant money, he responded, “We will end that grant very quickly,” Trump said. “It was made a number of years ago. Who was president then, I wonder?”
Other politicians also jumped on the claim. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) accused the Chinese government of covering up its involvement in the virus’ origins. “This evidence is circumstantial, to be sure, but it all points toward the Wuhan labs,” the senator wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.
Last week, President Trump also blamed Obama for the lack of coronavirus testing in the U.S.
In April, Trump also wondered why Obama hadn’t endorsed Joe Biden days after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic primary.