Documents detailing the work conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China have been made publicly available for the first time.
The 900 pages of documents were obtained by The Intercept through ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation against the National Institutes of Health. The collection includes specific information regarding EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based health organization, and its use of federal funding to research bat coronaviruses.
The outlet also received two grant proposals funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right To Know, said, “This is a roadmap to the high-risk research that could have led to the current pandemic.”
U.S. Right To Know keeps a compendium of information regarding COVID-19, including declassified reports about its origins, transparency failures, and records of accidents, leaks, or containment failures.
One of the grants outlined the process for screening bats for the novel coronavirus as well as screening people who work with live animals.
“The bat coronavirus grant provided the EcoHealth Alliance with a total of $3.1 million, including $599,000 that the Wuhan Institute of Virology used in part to identify and alter bat coronaviruses likely to infect humans,” The Intercept reports. “Even before the pandemic, many scientists were concerned about the potential dangers associated with such experiments. The grant proposal acknowledges some of those dangers: ‘Fieldwork involves the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, while working in caves with high bat density overhead and the potential for fecal dust to be inhaled.’”
Determining the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak has become a controversial subject. While many biosafety experts believe the virus was caused by a lab outbreak, the Chinese Communist Party and EcoHealth Alliance president Peter Daszak among others have denied this possibility.
In May, President Joe Biden gave the intelligence community 90 days to investigate the virus’s origin. In a statement, he said he received a report on the virus shortly after taking office, “including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.”
He added that the intelligence community was split over the two theories and did not “believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.”
“Mr. Biden’s statement came as CNN reported that the president’s administration this spring shut down a state department investigation into whether the virus could have leaked from a Wuhan lab, deeming the probe an ineffective use of resources,” reported the BBC.
On August 27, Biden announced the investigation was inconclusive.