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Trump says he’s ending Obama-era funding for Chinese lab at center of coronavirus outbreak probe

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, addresses his remarks at a coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
April 20, 2020

President Donald Trump announced during his White House coronavirus press briefing Friday that he will end U.S. grants to Wuhan Institute of Virology after learning the Chinese lab received a $3.7 million grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2015.

Trump was asked to respond to U.S. intelligence reports indicating the coronavirus outbreak originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, alongside reports that NIH provided a research grant to the lab under then-President Barrack Obama.

“Why would the U.S. give a grant like that to China?” the reporter asked

Trump said he had been looking into the issue just an hour before the press briefing and that he said he had instructed his administration to suspend any grants that may still be in place for the Wuhan lab.

“It was granted quite a while ago. They were granted a substantial amount of money. We’re going to look at it, but I understand it was a number of years ago,” Trump said. “When did you hear the grant was made? 2015? Who was president then? I wonder.”

Trump’s remarks came days after Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz raised the concerns about U.S. funding to the Wuhan lab during an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

“I’m against funding Chinese research in our country, but I’m sure against funding it in China. The NIH gives this $3.7 million grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, they then advertise that they need coronavirus researchers and following that coronavirus erupts in Wuhan,” Gaetz said.

The Daily Mail reported that the Wuhan lab was involved in research on bats, which have been identified as a likely source of origin for the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, into the human population. The Daily Mail reported that the lab continues to operate with American approval to receive funding for research.

The reports of the Wuhan lab being the true origin of the novel coronavirus outbreak follow prior reports that China initially suppressed information about the virus and downplayed human-to-human transmission even as the disease began to spread around the world.