According to reports, the United States has taken its most drastic measure in response to biosafety practices in China by penalizing the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The US government has reportedly suspended Wuhan lab access to federal funding after it failed to provide requested documents regarding safety and security measures.
The Department of Health and Human Services has informed the lab that it is seeking to permanently cut off funding after conducting a review since September of last year. As a result, the facility in Wuhan will not receive any further federal funding and is not compliant with US federal regulations.
It is important to note that the lab has not received funding from the National Institutes of Health since July 2020. However, this recent penalty represents the most significant action taken by the US in response to biosafety practices in China amidst ongoing investigations into the origins of Covid.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been a focal point in discussions surrounding the origin of the pandemic. FBI director Christopher Wray has expressed suspicion that the virus could have originated from the lab, although conclusive evidence has not been found regarding whether the virus emerged from animal-to-human transmission or a laboratory accident.
Following this decision, the lab will be prohibited from conducting any business on behalf of others in the US. While the Wuhan lab has the option to contest the suspension and proposed debarment, it is reportedly unlikely to do so.
In 2014, EcoHealth Alliance, a US-based organization focused on preventing infectious diseases, received a grant for research on bat coronavirus emergence, which was funneled to the Wuhan Institute of Virology with funds from the US Agency for International Development.
Last month, a declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence identified safety and security issues at the institute.