The U.S. government’s grants are subject to a number of requirements, including sufficient experiment supervision and prompt results reporting. Due to failure to meet certain conditions, the NIH is set to end the grant for the Wuhan lab which included making bat coronaviruses more dangerous.
A subgrant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Chinese laboratory where the first COVID-19 instances were found in 2019 has come to a close.
EcoHealth Alliance, based in the United States, was awarded $3.7 million in 2014 to research bat-related coronaviruses. It transferred some of the funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China.
The fund was renewed in 2019, but stopped in 2020 due to concerns that recipients were unable to meet the terms of the money.
The NIH’s examination of the issues has finished, according to Dr. Michael Lauer, an NIH deputy director, in a letter dated Aug. 19. It was found that all of the issues could not be resolved.
As a result, the NIH told EcoHealth Alliance that the subaward to the Wuhan facility had been discontinued “for failure to meet award terms and conditions requiring provision of records to NIH upon request,” Lauer wrote (read below) to House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.).
‘Cannot Be Remedied’
The U.S. government’s grants are subject to a number of requirements, including sufficient experiment supervision and prompt results reporting.
The NIH stated in October 2021 that the EcoHealth Alliance failed to undertake a review of the studies carried out under the award, that included rendering bat coronaviruses more deadly. In January, the organization claimed EcoHealth Alliance had not complied with further requirements related to the grant, R01AI110964, and other awards.
According to Lauer on Friday, the NIH requested plans to address the shortcomings and received them on February 4. The NIH found the plans to be adequate.
Separately, the NIH requested lab notes and original data from the research carried out at the Wuhan facility from EcoHealth in late 2021 and again in January. According to the current letter, it has not obtained them.
Executives from EcoHealth stated that they forwarded the request to WIV but had not gotten a response from them.
The recently announced termination of the subaward was brought on by the failure to supply the requested materials.
“NIH has determined that WIV’s refusal to provide the requested records, and EHA’s failure to include the required terms in WIV’s subaward agreement represent material failures to comply with the terms of award,” Lauer told Drs. Aleksei Chmura and Peter Daszak, the executives, in a letter released on Friday by Comer. “NIH has further determined that in these circumstances, WIV’s refusal to provide records cannot be remedied by imposing additional conditions, and that a partial termination of award (i.e., termination of the subaward to WIV) is the only appropriate action.”
Will Keep Funding EcoHealth
For the time being, the NIH is not canceling any of the aforementioned awards, R01AI110964, 1U01AI151797-01, and 1U01AI153420-01.
According to Lauer, it is preferable to engage with grantees to get them into conformity rather than to terminate them when they are not complying with regulations.
According to the NIH, EcoHealth has effectively carried out the correction plans for the latter two awards that were accepted. EcoHealth will be unable to distribute funds to WIV under the other program, but it will be allowed to renegotiate the project’s goals with the Dr. Anthony Fauci-led National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
If a deal is made, the updated grant will be implemented. The grant may be revoked if it is not.
Within 30 days, EcoHealth was required to describe how it would fulfill the grant’s objectives without using WIV. According to Lauer, this will necessitate a change in scope, albeit it might not dramatically diverge from the initial concept.
Read the document below: