In 2015 and 2019, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in Wuhan (China) – where the COVID-19 virus is reported to have originated – received grants from the European Union.
EUR 73 375 were granted in 2015 and EUR 88 436 in 2019.
On 16 October 2020, Dutch Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Derk Jan Eppink of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. MEP Eppink asked the Commission “can it comment on the context in which the WIV received these grants?” and “has a European Union delegation visited this institute in the past five years?”
Finally, MEP Eppink enquired “how did the EU monitor whether the recipient of the grants spent the money effectively?”
On 09 December, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, responsible for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, responded on behalf of the European Commission. She reported that “the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) participates in two Horizon 2020 research infrastructure projects concerning the European Virus Archive (EVA): “EVAg” and “EVA Global” and “both projects enable research activities in response to viral disease outbreaks”.
Commissioner Gabriel also stated that “global epidemics require the inclusion of non-European network partners such as WIV”.
She clarified that “WIV was instrumental in identifying SARS-Cov2 as COVID-19 causative agent, and in generating its genome sequence published on 12 January 2020” and “this information was necessary to develop the now widely used PCR assay, developed by EVA partner Humboldt University” and that “the EVA network today provides assay protocols and materials worldwide”.
Commissioner Gabriel also reported that “an EU delegation visited WIV on 19 May 2015 for the launch of its high-risk pathogen biosafety research facility, which enabled above-mentioned contributions to SARS-Cov2 research” and “the visit was part of the “2015 Research and Innovation Tour” to celebrate the 40th anniversary of EU-China diplomatic relations”.
She underlined that “both projects in which WIV is participating are subject to the Commission’s regular monitoring process involving scrutiny of periodic activity reports and cost claims”.
Commissioner Gabriel asserted that “concerning EVAg, partner WIV complied with all reporting requirements and delivered work as foreseen by the grant agreement” and “the final project report (to be done within 6 months after the end of the project) has not yet been submitted, and no final payment has been made” and added that “concerning the second grant, no report or cost claim is due yet”.
Finally, Commissioner Gabriel declared that “a lack of communication by WIV was observed in the period from February to October 2020” and that “for this reason, an interim report on its activities has been requested”.
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/corona-virus-pandemic-epidemic-4801040/