US Nobel laureates denounce end to coronavirus research grant

Added On May 24, 2020

A group of 77 U.S. Nobel laureates have expressed their "grave concern" for the recent cancellation of a federal grant to a U.S. non-governmental organization, which was researching coronaviruses and had collaboration with China.

In a recent open letter to Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH),  the 77 American Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine, Chemistry, and Physics, asked for an investigation into the cancellation of the grant from NIH to EcoHealth Alliance, a group that researches bat coronaviruses headquartered in New York.
The Nobel Laureates said in the letter that such action "sets a dangerous precedent by interfering in the conduct of science, and jeopardizes public trust in the process of awarding federal funds for research".
According to the letter, researchers at EcoHealth Alliance have been conducting highly regarded, NIH-supported research on coronaviruses and other infectious agents. Their work depends on productive collaborations with scientists in other countries, including scientists in Wuhan, China.
The Nobel recipients said the abrupt revoking of the grant contravenes basic tenets, and deprives the nation and the world of highly regarded science that could help control one of the greatest health crises in modern history and those that may arise in the future.
They asked Azar and Collins to conduct and release a thorough review of the actions to terminate the grant, and take appropriate steps to "rectify the injustices" that may have been committed in revoking it.
The grant was "abruptly terminated" by NIH last month, a few days after U.S. President Donald Trump responded to a question from a reporter who erroneously claimed that the grant awarded millions of dollars to investigators in Wuhan.