Fact Check: Did Joe Biden Authorize Taxpayer Funding For the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

Online COVID-19 conspiracies have been circulating since the virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

Recent social media speculation has emerged surrounding funds provided to the Wuhan Institute of Virology research institute.

The Claim

One Twitter user posted on Thursday: "After refusing to allow the WHO to access the infamous Wuhan lab at the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic President Biden has authorized the Wuhan Institute of Virology to receive US taxpayer funding through 2024."

After refusing to allow the WHO to access the infamous Wuhan lab at the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic President Biden has authorized the Wuhan Institute of Virology to receive US taxpayer funding through 2024.

— Robin O'Brien (@zombiemommy) February 18, 2021

Another user tweeted on Thursday "JUST IN: Wuhan Institute of Virology eligible to receive US taxpayer funding through 2024," and cited The Daily Caller News Foundation as their source in a thread attached.

JUST IN: Wuhan Institute of Virology eligible to receive US taxpayer funding through 2024

— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 18, 2021

The Facts

The claims that President Joe Biden authorized the Wuhan Institute of Virology to receive U.S. taxpayer funding through 2024 might have evolved from how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided grants to the EcoHealth Alliance.

In 2014, the NIH awarded the EcoHealth Alliance a grant that spanned six years for a research project focused on "Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence."

The EcoHealth Alliance is a global nonprofit focused on research related to preventing pandemics. Under the research project, the EcoHealth Alliance worked with researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to USA Today.

The EcoHealth Alliance received money from the grant yearly and it was reapproved by President Donald Trump's administration in 2019. The Wuhan Institute of Virology received a small portion of the grant money in a sub-grant.

"The Wuhan Institute received about $600,000 from the NIH, according to Robert Kessler, a spokesperson for EcoHealth Alliance. The funding was a fee for the collection and analysis of viral samples," USA Today reported.

The NIH terminated the grant for the EcoHealth Alliance last April. In July, it told EcoHealth in a letter that it would reinstate the grant's funding if certain requirements were met.

"NIH's letter cynically reinstates and instantly suspends EcoHealth Alliance's funding, then attempts to impose impossible and irrelevant conditions that will effectively block us from continuing this critical work," EcoHealth Alliance wrote in a statement.

The grant has not been reinstated.

The Daily Caller reported Tuesday that "the WIV still has an active Foreign Assurance on file with the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, which enables it to continue receiving taxpayer funds to engage in animal research," and that it lasts until January 2024.

"The spokeswoman did not confirm whether the WIV is currently receiving direct or indirect taxpayer funding for research activities involving animals," the Daily Caller wrote.

The NIH did not respond to requests for comment regarding the mentioned Foreign Assurance on file being funded by taxpayer dollars.

In August, NPR reported that NIH awarded EcoHealth Alliance a $7.5 million grant, along with 10 other institutions, "to establish the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases."

This is not a continuation of the previous grant.

The Ruling

False.

Biden did not authorize U.S. taxpayer money to go to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology received partial funding from the NIH's grant provided to the EcoHealth Alliance for "Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence." The grant was awarded by the NIH while under President Barack Obama's administration and reapproved in 2019 by the Trump administration.

The NIH awarded EcoHealth Alliance a separate grant of $7.5 million to help establish the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases, during the Trump administration.

Biden
President Joe Biden's approval rating is above 50 percent in his first month in office. Here, Biden delivers remarks at a virtual event hosted by the Munich Security Conference in the East Room of the White House on February 19, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker/Getty