Photo does not show Obama at a lab in Wuhan, China, in 2015
CLAIM: Photo shows Dr. Anthony Fauci, Melinda Gates and Barack Obama at the Wuhan lab in 2015.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photo shows then-President Barack Obama visiting the National Institutes of Health in 2014 along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell. They are listening to Dr. Nancy Sullivan, chief of the Biodefense Research Section of The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
THE FACTS: A post circulating on Facebook falsely claims the former president visited an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, China, in 2015, an effort to link Obama to a debunked conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was made in a lab.
The post includes a screenshot of a tweet with the photo that says, “you mean this Dr. Fauci who was with Obama in 2015 in the Wuhan lab where they paid $3.7 million for a bat project.”
The photo not only does not show Obama in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, but it also inaccurately portrays Obama’s role with the grant. In 2014, the National Institutes of Health awarded EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based environmental health nonprofit, a grant of $3.25 million for five years to study bats in southern China for unknown coronaviruses. The Wuhan Institute of Virology received about $600,000 of the grant. The grant was renewed under President Donald Trump’s administration in 2019, but was terminated in April before new funding could be given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The photo of the president at the NIH campus in December of 2014 can be found on the NIH director’s blog with the accurate caption. Obama visited the NIH Vaccine Research Center to see work being done against Ebola. During his visit, he also gave a speech where, the blog says, he emphasized the need for emergency congressional authorization of resources for Ebola research.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536