President Trump is not a doctor and has never claimed to be one. He defers to the doctors and scientists. But has that been a mistake? It turns out that one of the country’s most prominent medical and scientific organizations, the federally-funded National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been funding research in China's most controversial and insecure lab of dangerous viruses in China.
This scandal is far more serious than the president’s personal opinions about the use of sunlight and disinfectants to fight coronavirus.
Presumably, the research was for the purpose of understanding dangerous viruses and stopping their spread. But something went horribly wrong. The bodies are piling up all around us and the U.S. has entered an economic depression as a result.
This story is unfolding as Trump is reportedly contemplating ending his daily White House briefings because of the hostile treatment he receives from the press. That’s an understandable reaction. But the briefings have been helpful. Consider that on April 17, at one of those briefings, Trump was asked about a federal grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2015, the lab linked to controversial virus and animal experiments. The question was posed by Emerald Robinson, the White House correspondent for Newsmax TV. “When did you hear the grant was made?” Trump responded, after confirming the grant. “2015? Who was president then? I wonder.” He said the Trump Administration would cut off the money.
My own digging led to a 2013 grant for the study of “infectious diseases” in China provided by the NIH and National Science Foundation. Dr. Zhengli Shi, Director of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was an investigator. This is the famous “bat woman” who denies her lab was the source of the coronavirus.
A reporter with good sources who has been critical of China, Josh Rogin of the Washington Post, disclosed State Department cables in 2018 that warned of safety issues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and “a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.” Rogin added, “The Chinese researchers at WIV were receiving assistance from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch and other U.S. organizations, but the Chinese requested additional help. The cables argued that the United States should give the Wuhan lab further support, mainly because its research on bat coronaviruses was important but also dangerous.”
The ”other U.S. organizations” appears to be a reference to the international "partners" of the WIV listed on the Chinese organization’s own website: University of Alabama, University of North Texas, EcoHealth Alliance, Harvard University, and the National Institutes of Health.
The question of “further support” for the controversial Chinese lab was presented in terms of concern by State Department or U.S. embassy officials. But why was the support provided in the first place? It is entirely possible, even probable, that American expertise made it possible for the Chinese to run their dangerous disease research. After all, the Chinese are known for stealing intellectual property.
The key question all along is one that should be directed to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins: Why was the NIH underwriting Chinese research into dangerous viruses, knowing about the risks and dangers?
Understanding that this matter is political dynamite that could backfire on Joe Biden or any other Democratic Party presidential nominee, a left-wing so-called “fact-checking” website, Snopes, examined the issue and confirmed that a grant was made through a U.S.-based organization, the EcoHealth Alliance, and that the funds came from the NIH. Snopes added, “While a portion of these grants funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), this lab did not receive all $3.7 million.”
The scandal, of course, is why tax dollars were flowing into the WIV in the first place and without adequate oversight.
The NIH money was provided to the WIV apparently because Dr. Collins and others thought China would cooperate with the U.S. in stopping such threats. But China and its front, the World Health Organization, initially covered up the spread of the coronavirus. What’s more, China let residents of Wuhan travel around the world, including to the United States, spreading the disease.
Snopes’ well-known left-wing bias helps us understand why it gave the media reports about the $3.7 million in grants a “mixture” rating of truth and falsity, rather than declare the main charge absolutely true and give Trump credit for responding in the way he did. It wants to get the Obama/Biden Administration off the hook for complicity in a scandal involving scientific and medical research that may have led to sickening and killing millions of people. It doesn’t want to justify the Trump Administration’s anti-China stance and cut-off of $400 million annually to the WHO.
Trump doesn’t get off the hook completely. He bowed to Collins’ supporters in Congress, including Democrats and some top Republicans, and kept Collins in the NIH post. Collins is an Obama holdover (since 2009) who was so cozy with the Chinese that, during a 2010 trip to China, he signed scientific agreements with them and also played a song for them on the guitar. The bizarre spectacle was captured in the story “Music and science strengthen US-China relations.”
One could argue that the communists played Collins like a violin.
Although congressional investigations are needed, the basic facts are already clear: American tax dollars and expertise were provided under the cover of U.S.-China “cooperation” and could have made the virus and its release possible. The NIH and Director Collins have a lot to explain and answer for.
• Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. www.usasurvival.org© Cliff Kincaid
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.