Fauci Resisted Trump’s Directive To Cancel Funding to Wuhan Lab

"White House Coronavirus Update Briefing" (Public domain) by Trump White House Archived

In April of last year, Anthony Fauci opposed a directive from the White House to cancel a research grant for a nonprofit associated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

However, Fauci “reluctantly agreed” after he learned that it was then-President Trump who explicitly ordered the cancellation of the grant. This account was taken from an excerpt of a book that puts in detail the response made by the Trump administration to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the Trump administration, the White House urged the National Institutes of Health to cancel funding for research that examines how coronaviruses transfer from infected bats to humans; this occurred following reports linking the research to the Wuhan laboratory during the height of the “lab leak theory”.

The theory asserts the possibility that the pandemic originated as a lab leak accident. The sponsor of the research, the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, was also asked not to use the $369,819 remaining balance of its 2020 grant.

Fauci and Collins learned about the directive to cancel the grant

The upcoming book by Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damien Paletta also puts in detail Fauci’s debate with top officials on how to handle the request to cancel the grant. The authors furthermore provided a behind-the-scenes chronicle of how Fauci and his associates at the National Institute of Health responded to the directive from the White House. 

In the excerpt of the book, the authors wrote that as the questions about the origins of the coronavirus rise, the National Institutes of Health moved to the investigator of the principal study on April 19; they then asked that the payments be paused to the subcontractor in Wuhan until they have more answers as to the origins of the virus. 

“Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID Director” (CC BY 2.0) by NIAID

Then on April 24, a few days later, the grant gained new attention. Francis Collins, NIH Director, and Anthony Fauci received a notice. They were informed that then-President Trump wanted to formally declare in a press conference that the grant has been terminated. 

Collins and Fauci resisted, telling the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services that the authority of NIH to stop a peer-reviewed grant in the middle of a budget cycle is questionable.

However, the general counsel of the HHS told them to do the directive anyway. The HHS counsel also made it clear that the order comes from the president and implied that if they do not comply with the order, they could lose their job. Thus, Collins and Fauci, though reluctant, agreed to cancel the grant.

Fauci denied his knowledge as to why the grant was canceled

According to tot the book, the incident was relayed by Fauci to his long-time friend Peter Staley, an HIV/AIDS activist who allegedly pushed Fauci to resist the orders by the administration. 

However, when Fauci testified at the House Energy and Commerce Hearing in June 2020, Fauci claimed that he was not aware of the reason why the grant was discontinued.

At that time, Fauci said that it was canceled because the NIH was ordered to cancel it.