A group of international scientists and health experts have asked the board of directors of the New York nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance to remove Dr Peter Daszak as president following reporting on its links with a Chinese laboratory where the COVID-19 pandemic could come from.
The letter – which was dated Thursday and was also sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr Francis Collins and Chief Medical Advisor of the White House , Dr Anthony Fauci – accused the British Daszak of after having “covered up several extreme situations of conflict of interest, withheld critical information and deceived public opinion by expressing lies”.
“Despite this,” the letter continued, “we saw no indication of disapproval of Dr. Daszak’s behavior by the [EcoHealth Alliance] Board of Directors, and we are not aware of any investigation by the Board of Directors, as would apparently be required under New York law. “
The letter was made public days after the dissolution of a United Nations-backed commission that had been tasked with investigating the origins of the deadly pandemic due to the number of members linked to the association.
Daszak had also been a member of the commission, but recused himself in June.
“I just didn’t want a task force that was so clearly involved in one of the main issues in all this origins research, which was EcoHealth Alliance,” Columbia University professor Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, last chairman of the commission, told the Wall Street Journal on Monday.
In recent years, the EcoHealth Alliance has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for the study of bat coronaviruses. As COVID-19 spread around the world in February 2020, Daszak reportedly staged a statement signed by 27 leading scientists that appeared in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet.
The statement condemned what she called “conspiracy theories suggesting COVID-19 has no natural origin” and proclaimed “solidarity with all scientists and medical professionals in China.”
Two months after the statement was released, Daszak emailed Fauci thanking him for publicly supporting the theory that the coronavirus naturally passes from animals to humans and does not leak from the WIV.
“As you must know,” read Thursday’s letter, “a research accident is now officially considered a plausible scenario that it would be irresponsible to overlook, and that the [World Health Organization] herself firmly included in her latest original initiative.
More than 18 months after widespread restrictions were imposed in response to the spread of COVID-19, opinion is divided on how the pandemic came about. An unclassified summary of an August US intelligence community report says it is “plausible” that the virus leaked from a lab, but added that an answer may never be determined due to the China “continues to obstruct the global investigation, resist information sharing and blame other countries, including the United States.
The letter also accused Daszak of lying when he said the Wuhan lab did not keep live bats on the premises, as recently uncovered images from 2017 show bats in cages at the facility. The document further alleges that Daszak made “unsubstantiated claims” as to why the virus samples and sequences held by WIV were taken offline, making them inaccessible to outside researchers.
The most serious charge in the letter indicates that Daszak did not publicly disclose that the EcoHealth Alliance applied in 2018 to receive a grant from the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that allegedly funded a project creating “the creation new chimeric viruses that are optimized to infect humans and that could unleash unknown and unspeakable havoc. ”
These researches are classified under the generic term of “gain of function”. Fauci and Collins have repeatedly denied that federal funds were spent on such research at the WIV, but did not rule out the possibility that gain-of-function experiments were performed behind their backs.
News of the 2018 DARPA grant proposal was first reported last week by The Intercept, which noted that DARPA had rejected the application.
“Regardless of Peter Daszak’s motivation, withholding the DARPA 2018 application and its proposal to genetically modify bat coronavirus furin cleavage sites to the WHO, the Lancet Commission and the general public. while repeatedly calling anyone raising questions about a possible pandemic laboratory incident causing a ‘conspiracy theorist’ to be at the very least a material breach of ethics and public trust, ”said Jamie Metzl, one of the signatories of the letter and member of the WHO Expert Committee on Human Genome Editing.
“Because nearly all of the EcoHealth Alliance’s budget comes from American taxpayers, this organization’s board of directors has a moral, and possibly legal, responsibility to immediately launch a full investigation into Peter’s behavior,” added Metzl, who has been a leader in efforts calling for a full investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dazak declined to speak to the media or lawmakers about what the EcoHealth Alliance did in Wuhan, but used his Twitter account to insist the virus is spreading naturally – and not from a cataclysmic accident.