In an effort to absolve his administration from its bungled response to the pandemic, President Donald Trump and his allies are leaping to blame China for the virus that's upended daily life in the United States.
Supporters of the President have spread conspiracy theories that the virus was deliberately engineered in a Chinese lab before being released. As a result, the Trump administration has vilified the Wuhan Institute of Virology, an institute located where the virus originated.
For over a decade, the EcoHealth Alliance has partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology to work towards a cure for various strands of the virus from bats to humans. Amid the current pandemic, the United States has already been using the advancements borne through this partnership to fight the virus. Their research identified the drug Remdesivir's effectiveness in fighting it.
Nevertheless, Trump administration—through the National Institute of Health—has defunded the grant for this effort, presenting a huge setback in efforts to find a cure.
EcoHealth Alliance president and scientist Peter Daszak recently warned that the NIH's decision was more preoccupied with pandemic politics than with ending the pandemic.
He reiterated these points in a CBS News interview:
"This politicization of science is really damaging. You know, the conspiracy theories out there have essentially closed down communication between scientists in China and scientists in the U.S. We need that communication in an outbreak to learn from them how they control it so we can control it better. It's sad to say, but it will probably cost lives. By sort of narrow-mindedly focusing in on ourselves, or on labs, or on certain cultural politics, we miss the real enemy."
CBS's report on 60 Minutes detailed efforts from Republicans like Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz and far-Right Fox News host Tucker Carlson to target the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a scapegoat for the Trump administration's ineptitude.
After 60 Minutes covered Daszak's story, a Trump tweet soon followed:
This fake news campaign cost lives.
People were sickened by the Trump administration's willingness to cut promising research for the sake of political points.
It seemed to some that Trump didn't care about potentially worsening the impact of the virus.
For more information on the Trump administration's ineptitude, check out A Very Stable Genius, available here.