In a long story in Vanity Fair that has some interesting twists it's claimed at one point that

At a White House COVID-19 press briefing on April 17, 2020, a reporter from the conspiratorial right-wing media outlet Newsmax asked Trump a factually inaccurate question about a $3.7 million NIH grant to a level-four lab in China. “Why would the U.S. give a grant like that to China?” the reporter asked.

Trump responded, “We will end that grant very quickly,” adding, “Who was president then, I wonder.”

A week later, an NIH official notified Daszak in writing that his grant had been terminated. [...]

In July, the NIH attempted to backtrack. It reinstated the grant but suspended its research activities until EcoHealth Alliance fulfilled seven conditions, some of which went beyond the nonprofit’s purview and seemed to stray into tinfoil-hat territory. They included: providing information on the “apparent disappearance” of a Wuhan Institute of Virology researcher, who was rumored on social media to be patient zero, and explaining diminished cell phone traffic and roadblocks around the WIV in October 2019.

Did NIH really ask EcoHealth Alliance to provide that kind of information (e.g. on the “apparent disappearance” of WIV researcher and cellphone traffic) as condition for reinstating the grant? I see the info on the claim is found elsewhere, but what concrete proof exists (besides Daszak's & collaborators words) that NIH really asked them for this kind of info? Is the NIH write-up/request to them public? (With all the FOIAs on Fauci's emails, maybe this was disclosed too...)


1 Answer 1


Surprisingly, the answer is yes; there's a an official written request; item #2 on the list is the "apparent disappearance Huang Yanling, a scientist / technician who worked in the WIV lab but whose lab web presence has been deleted". And #4 is indeed about roadblocks and cell phone traffic.

Specifically, to address the NIH’s concerns, EcoHealth must provide the NIH with the following information and materials, which must be complete and accurate:

  1. Provide an aliquot of the actual SARS-CoV-2 virus that WIV used to determine the viral sequence.

  2. Explain the apparent disappearance of Huang Yanling, a scientist / technician who worked in the WIV lab but whose lab web presence has been deleted.

  3. Provide the NIH with WIV’s responses to the 2018 U.S. Department of State cables regarding safety concerns.

  4. Disclose and explain out-of-ordinary restrictions on laboratory facilities, as suggested, for example, by diminished cell-phone traffic in October 2019, and the evidence that there may have been roadblocks surrounding the facility from October 14-19, 2019.

  5. Explain why WIV failed to note that the RaTG13 virus, the bat-derived coronavirus in its collection with the greatest similarity to SARS-CoV-2, was actually isolated from an abandoned mine where three men died in 2012 with an illness remarkably similar to COVID-19, and explain why this was not followed up.

  6. Additionally, EcoHealth Alliance must arrange for WIV to submit to an outside inspection team charged to review the lab facilities and lab records, with specific attention to addressing the question of whether WIV staff had SARS-CoV-2 in their possession prior to December 2019. The inspection team should be granted full access to review the processes and safety of procedures of all of the WIV field work (including but not limited to collection of animals and biospecimens in caves, abandoned man-made underground cavities, or outdoor sites). The inspection team could be organized by NIAID, or, if preferred, by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

  7. Lastly, EcoHealth Alliance must ensure that all of its subawards are fully reported in the Federal Subaward Reporting System

The request letter is signed by "Michael S Lauer, MD, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research".

As noted in some Nature's news reporting EcoHealth Alliance declined this request, in particular because the grant was not about any Covid-19 research, so even request #1 was a non-starter.


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