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A Conspiracy Theory Spreading on the Right Leads Trump to Gut Funding for Coronavirus Bat Study



‘Outcomes’ Not Meeting ‘Priorities’

The Trump administration has cut funding from an ongoing five-year research program studying coronavirus transmission between bats and humans because it determined the projected results would not match the administration’s goals and priorities.

But central to the gutting of THE funding is a right wing conspiracy theory spreading among conservatives, insisting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 came from a Wuhan, China laboratory. The Trump administration, the GOP, and Fox News are supporting or promoting that apparent and unproven falsehood to shield the President from blame for his mismanagement of the pandemic.

Politico reports the National Institutes of Health has told EcoHealth Alliance it is immediately discontinuing funding of its coronavirus bat-human transmission study. The NIH also ordered the global infectious diseases nonprofit to return all current unused funding, totaling $369,819. Part of EcoHealth’s mission is to “develop solutions that prevent pandemics.”

The NIH’s deputy director for extramural research, Michael Lauer, informed EcoHealth Alliance in a letter: “At this time, NIH does not believe that the current project outcomes align with the program goals and agency priorities.”

And yet, as Politico also notes, EcoHealth’s coronavirus transmission study aligns with NIH’s “key priorities — including understanding its origin and transmission.”

The Republican Party is engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to divert attention away from the President’s horrific mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic by trying to make China and the World Health Organization the targets of blame.

“Part of the conspiracy theory alleges that the EcoHealth Alliance gave some of its funding to the Wuhan lab, a narrative Lauer cited in his email correspondence with the researchers conducting the bat study,” Talking Points Memo adds. EcoHealth denies that claim.

President Donald Trump willfully ignored months of warnings from his own intelligence agencies that made clear, starting at least in November, that millions of Americans could be infected with the new novel coronavirus. Trump delayed action for weeks if not months, likely causing thousands of deaths, while engaging in a coverup, according to a former Defense Dept. special counsel.


Photo: President Donald J. Trump tours the viral pathogenesis laboratory Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



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