NIH abruptly cuts coronavirus research funding, alarming scientists - 2020-05-01
Researchers expressed alarm this week after the National Institutes of Health abruptly cancelled funding for a long-standing research project by US and Chinese scientists to examine how coronaviruses leap from bats to humans, potentially causing devastating pandemics—such as the one we are currently experiencing by a coronavirus genetically linked to those found in bats.
The funding cut could set back critical research into preventing such disease spread, scientists say. They also expressed dismay that the decision was prompted by unfounded conspiracy theories and what some see as a wider attempt by the Trump administration to deflect criticism of its handling of the pandemic by blaming China for unleashing the disease.
The NIH has not provided a clear explanation for its move to cancel the funds, which occurred April 24 and was first reported by Politico Monday, April 27. However, in email exchanges published April 30 by Science magazine, it is clear that the NIH was motivated by conspiracy theories that allege—without evidence—that the virus was somehow released by Chinese researchers in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the pandemic began.