The nonprofit exec whose group sent nearly $600,000 in US taxpayer money to a Chinese lab which will have been the supply of COVID-19, masterminded an effort close to the beginning of the pandemic to squelch the notion that the coronavirus was man-made, a brand new report reveals.
Peter Daszak, president of the New York City-based EcoHealth Alliance, secretly organized a press release issued by the influential British medical journal The Lancet in February 2020, according to Vanity Fair.
A complete of 27 scientists — together with Daszak, 55, who educated as a zoologist — signed the assertion, which expressed “solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China.”
“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” the statement affirmed
“Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice that jeopardise our global collaboration in the fight against this virus.”
During Daszak’s efforts to organize the Lancet assertion, he reportedly emailed two scientists, together with Dr. Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina, who’d labored with the lead coronavirus researcher at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, situated on the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
Daszak informed the scientists that they “should not sign this statement, so it has some distance from us and therefore doesn’t work in a counterproductive way,” Vanity Fair mentioned, citing emails obtained by the group US Right to Know.
“We’ll then put it out in a way that doesn’t link it back to our collaboration so we maximize an independent voice,” Daszak reportedly added.
Baric didn’t signal the Lancet assertion, however final month was amongst 18 worldwide scientists who signed a press release in Science Magazine calling for a “transparent, objective” investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
And whereas the Lancet assertion included a declare that its signatories had “no competing interests,” at the very least six others had both labored at or been funded by EcoHealth Alliance, in accordance to Vanity Fair.
Daszak acquired greater than $410,000 in annual compensation from EcoHealth and “related organizations” throughout the fiscal yr that ended on June 30, 2019, in accordance to an IRS submitting posted on-line by the ProPublica news organization.
The nonprofit, which says it’s “dedicated to protecting wildlife and public health from the emergency of disease,” has acquired as a lot as $15 million a yr in grant money from numerous federal businesses, Vanity Fair mentioned.
EcoHealth has used these grants to fund controversial “gain-of-function” research — which might improve the infectiousness and virulence of viruses — at amenities that embody the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in accordance to Vanity Fair.
The WIV acquired about $600,0000 from a five-year, $3 million-plus grant that Vanity Fair mentioned EcoHealth received from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
According to Fauci’s official emails, which had been posted online this week by BuzzFeed, Daszak wrote him on April 18, 2020, to express gratitude for Fauci’s public statements backing the idea that the coronavirus advanced naturally.
“I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Daszak wrote.
“From my perspective, your comments are brave, and coming from your trusted voice, will help dispel the myths being spun around the virus’s origins.”
Fauci responded the subsequent day, saying, “Many thanks for your kind note.”
During a House Appropriations subcommittee assembly final week, Fauci denied that the federal government money the WIV received from EcoHealth was spent on gain-of-function analysis, saying, “That categorically was not done.”
But National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins acknowledged earlier within the assembly that, “we are, of course, not aware of other sources of funds or other activities they might have undertaken outside of what our approved grant allowed.”
WIV’s lead coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli — who’s been dubbed “Bat Woman” for her work with the flying mammals — has additionally acknowledged receiving greater than $1.2 million in US grant money, a few of which was routed by means of EcoHealth, in accordance to Vanity Fair.
In January, the US State Department released a fact sheet that exposed WIV researchers had collaborated on secret Chinese navy tasks since at the very least 2017, which Shi has emphatically denied.
China has additionally called the State Department fact sheet — which was adopted by President Biden’s administration — “full of fallacies” and the “last madness” of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who it referred to as “Mr. Lies.”
In January, Daszak was the one American consultant to participate in a World Health Organization go to to Wuhan that led to a finding that it’s “extremely unlikely” the coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab.
During a March 10 occasion in London, Daszak admitted that the group didn’t ask to examine the WIV’s database of twenty-two,000 virus samples and sequences, a call he defended by saying that “a lot of this work has been conducted with EcoHealth Alliance,” Vanity Fair mentioned.
Daszak additionally mentioned that Shi informed the group that the WIV eliminated the database from the web due to hacking makes an attempt throughout the pandemic — nevertheless it was really taken offline on Sept. 12, 2019, three months earlier than the official begin of the outbreak, in accordance to Vanity Fair.
In response to detailed questions from Vanity Fair, an EcoHealth spokesperson talking for each the group and Daszak mentioned, “We have no comment,” in accordance to the journal.