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  1. TopTop #1
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Well, Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? This is a thread dedicated to finding out just who is the man whose testimony about the "Origin of SARS-CoV-2" established the party line of the "Liberal" & "Mainstream Media" as the definitive & final word on the Subject...

    We shall examine the data one item at a time...
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  2. TopTop #2
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Investigating the origins of the COVID-19 virus

    Background Briefing with Ian Masters,
    29 April 2020

    Ian Masters: Joining us now is Jonathan Latham, who is the co-founder and executive director of the Bioscience Resource Project and the editor of Independent Science News. He’s also the director of the Poison Papers project, which publicises documents of the chemical industry and its regulators, and he has published scientific papers in disciplines as diverse as plant ecology, plant virology, genetics and genetic engineering. Welcome to Background Briefing, Jonathan Latham.

    Jonathan Latham: Hi. Thanks for having me back, Ian.

    Ian: …Trump [recently] said in this press conference [in response to a question about a contract the EcoHealth Alliance has had with the National Institute for Health], “Yes we will end this grant very quickly”. Well, it’s happened today: the EcoHealth Alliance, this New York based infectious disease research group working with the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, have lost their government funding. In fact, what’s left of the grant, $370,000, they were told in an email to hand that money back. So this is a casualty of bad science and bad information coming from the President. Nothing new there. What do you know about the relationship between the EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

    Jonathan: That it was pretty close. What we know, for example, is that in 2017 the institute published a paper on bat coronaviruses in which they did research on putting bat coronaviruses into human cells. And the specific concern that I have is that this kind of research is really risky research.

    And the whole question has blown up as to whether this Wuhan lab was the original source of the virus. And this EcoHealth Alliance [is] being asked by all these media outlets to comment on the origins of the virus [and] has been denying that it came from the institute. But it was funding the institute and it was on the papers doing what I would consider to be very risky experiments. So they have a very interesting conflict of interest. I’m not a fan of the President but this research has been controversial for a very long time and if somebody puts an end to it I think that would probably be a good thing.

    Ian: So why would you consider research where they were studying viruses in bats, some of which turned out to be very close to this corona virus, why is that not a good thing, given that we’ve had these zoonotic leaps from animals into humans with SARS, MERS, Ebola etc. So why not study these viruses that occur in nature, and bats are the vector?

    Jonathan: Well, we should study these viruses. There’s no doubt about that. The question is how you want to go about that. The question becomes: Is it necessary, for example, in the 2017 paper, which is a collaboration between the EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute, why do you want to put a whole coronavirus into human cells that you have optimised to replicate the virus? What you’re doing is basically providing an evolutionary opportunity for the virus to jump into humans.

    And the whole point of the EcoHealth Alliance is to warn us about how this [spillover] is a dangerous thing and yet you go and do it in a lab. And if you want to make vaccines, understand the virus, know where it’s coming from, and so on, those are all good research aims. But they are not really advanced by doing that kind of experiment. And if you read the conclusions of the paper they’re basically that we should be worried about coronaviruses. Well, we already were worried about coronaviruses because of the SARS outbreak. This never provided a new reason to be worried about them but it did provide a new reason to be worried about the kind of research that they’ve been doing, which includes gain-of-function research.

    They have been doing collaborations with the EcoHealth Alliance [that] include gain of function research where you put pieces of humanised virus into animal viruses and then you see how they do in human cells or in other cells. And they all are all providing opportunities for contamination events and leakages from labs, which happen on a routine basis.

    Ian: Well, these biolevel 4 labs are supposed to be the most secure in the world with all kinds of disciplines, surely?

    Jonathan: Yes, but their safety record is terrible. You see pictures of people suited up in their positive pressure suits and so on and so forth, but the record of these labs is really poor. This is the point of the article in the Washington Post the other day, which is basically pointing out cables from the US government saying they are concerned about this Wuhan lab, that they’re doing risky research and not taking proper precautions. They are worried about the training of the staff. They did multiple visits to that site and were very unhappy with what they found. It’s one thing to be a biosafety lab but China has no regulations for biosafety, basically. So the President of China has talked about we need to have regulations for biosafety. Well, they should have had that before they started doing the research.

    Ian: But the one thing that we can make clear, surely, about some of these conspiracy theories coming out about the Wuhan Institute of Virology and, I guess, by extension its relationship with the EcoHealth Alliance, is that the genetic sequence of this coronavirus [behind] COVID-19 was quickly published and researchers around the world have been working with it and there is no indication of any manipulation and gene splicing which would indicate some kind of bioweapon was let loose.

    Jonathan: Yes, I totally agree. No one that I’ve spoken to, and I agree, thinks this is a weapon. This is people trying to develop vaccines, trying to understand the virus, so on and so forth. But it’s not a weapon, nobody thinks that. It would be a very foolish weapon to release on the world.

    Ian: So what do you think is going to happen? I know US intelligence is looking at it and the Chinese, of course, are not being particularly cooperative. The fact that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is only, what, 8 miles from the so-called wet market where it was assumed this zoonotic leap took place. That is a bit of a coincidence, is it not?

    Jonathan: It’s an amazing coincidence. Firstly, there is a thing you didn’t know, which is that there is another virology lab, which is just 300 meters from the wet market. That’s a BSL2 lab where they supposedly have done coronavirus research. So you have got two labs in Wuhan. Both of them appear to be doing coronavirus research. The big one, the BSL4 lab, that should be more secure, has the world’s biggest collection of bat coronaviruses, including the one most closely related to the outbreak. So that’s a coincidence in the first place.

    If you want to say that this is a product of the animal trade, of farming, civets or trade in pangolins or bats, or people eating bats, and so forth, if you want to offer that as an explanation, you have to also explain why that outbreak happened in Wuhan. Because Wuhan is a city of 10 million people; China is a country of 1.2 billion, and [so] why would that outbreak happen in Wuhan? There would be no reason for it not to happen anywhere else [given that none of those things are unique to Wuhan], right?

    So the question becomes: Why did it [happen] in Wuhan? And when they are doing this research, and they have the most closely related viruses, they are doing gain-of-function studies, they’re putting these things into human cells, and doing what in my opinion are crazy experiments. These are really serious questions to answer here.

    Ian: Well, there is no question that the eating habits themselves are very questionable. They’re still selling bats, by the way, I believe at that Wuhan wet market.

    Jonathan: Well, there’s a scientific article that says there were no bats at that market. That’s not the last word on anything. People do eat bats. So I think it’s difficult to know what was at that Wuhan market. If you think about your local farmers’ market where people may or may not sell meat on one day or another, and so forth, we may never get to the bottom of what was being sold at that market. But the question I would come back to: Why would it break out in Wuhan 300 meters from a biosafety virology lab.

    Ian: Well, do you think this question will be answered? I don’t believe the Chinese government will.

    Jonathan: The stories are that the Chinese government is trying to… I would take these stories with a pinch of salt but CNN and the Washington Post and various other outlets have claimed that the Chinese government is suppressing research, that it has been destroying samples, that it is disappearing people who are close to the source.

    And the World Health Organisation ran an expedition to Wuhan to look at every aspect of the virus outbreak but they did not research the possibility of this being a lab spillover, lab accident event. So I think it’s very difficult.

    And the second problem with all this is that if you look at the EcoHealth Alliance, which is in part funding this research, they are partnered with the World Health Organisation, the CDC, the Gates Foundation is on their board of advisors. The question then becomes: Who is going to run such an investigation, because what other credible organisation is there to do that?

    All of them are implicated in what’s being funded by the EcoHealth Alliance, which is funding research not only on coronaviruses. They are collecting viruses from all over the world, all different kinds, like Ebola virus and so forth. They’re doing these experiments all over. They have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in projects to do this kind of research. So it’s very far from [just] coronaviruses. So you’ve got very big interests involved in all this and no credible organisation to actually do an investigation.

    Ian: Well again, nobody would question the validity of doing this kind of research. Apparently, they go into caves and get saliva and blood from bats. And then they find all kinds of viruses in them and apparently the freezers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology are full with all kinds of viruses. And that is one of the complaints the EcoHealth Alliance is having with Trump having cut off their funds.

    And it’s pretty clear to me because of the softball question that he got from Newsmax the other day, when he said, “I’m going to stop the funding”, and blamed the funding again on Obama, none of which is true... This seems to be again an attack on science from Trump. I don’t know how Dr Fauci feels about cutting off this money, but EcoHealth Alliance is saying, “This is crazy. We’ve got all these viruses that we’re studying sitting in a freezer in China now. We need to know what these viruses are and what they can do if they ever end up in humans.”

    Jonathan: Well, there are good and bad reasons for supporting the EcoHealth Alliance. There are many issues with the EcoHealth Alliance, I would say.

    If you read what their concerns are about the emergence of these infections, what’s really interesting is that, on the one hand, they like to talk about big picture human impacts on the environment, how we’re cutting down the rainforest and so on and so forth. But then in their narrative they always go to, “Well, we must put a stop to the wildlife trade.” We must put a stop to small… you know, the little guys, basically.

    And the real problem if you want to argue that these virus infections come from a human intrusion into the natural world, the place you need to look at is the beef industry, the soybean industry, the palm oil industry. And the EcoHealth Alliance misses that part. They go straight to the wildlife trade, ignoring the fact that the human destruction of the rainforest has to do with agribusiness. It has to do with big organisations.

    And it ought to be pointed out that the EcoHealth Alliance is funded by Colgate Palmolive; it’s funded by Reckitt [Benckiser], it’s funded by Johnson & Johnson. Right? What are these companies doing? They are buying large quantities of palm oil. So there is a conflict of interest here. There are a lot of complicated stories going on here.

    And the EcoHealth Alliance is being interviewed in all these media outlets, from the New York Times, to Scientific American… They are all over the media not blaming palm oil, not blaming agribusiness, not blaming the people who are the true culprits for the destruction of the ecosystems. They have totally zeroed in on the wildlife trade, which is a problem, I agree. But it is not as big a problem as the palm oil industry. Not by a hundredfold.

    Ian: Well, I’m not sure that you can blame the EcoHealth Alliance for the press’s lack of focus on the real culprit here. And it’s agribusiness, as you point out, and also these big food companies that use palm oil … they are just absolutely ravaging what’s left of the world’s rainforests to put this stuff in food.

    Jonathan: But you won’t get the EcoHealth Alliance to talk about that. Nominally their purpose is to show people the connections between the destruction of the natural world and their health. But actually they don’t do that, they totally bypass the main part of that. They don’t [inaudible] their interests to the palm oil industry.

    Ian: Well, I’m not sure it is their responsibility to talk about that. If their lane is to research these wet markets, I don’t see why these things are mutually exclusive. But if they are taking money from palm oil manufacturers or companies that use palm oil, then there would be a conflict of interest.

    Jonathan: There absolutely is.

    Ian: I see. OK. Well, I thank you for joining us and filling us in on this. I don’t imagine we will ever find out one way or the other what the origin of this pandemic is. Do you think we ever will find out?

    Jonathan: It’s possible that research will provide a slam dunk case. I think that if nobody finds an animal intermediate, and a virus floating around in a civet or a pangolin, or whatever it is, and there are no more avenues in that direction; and yet we know that the COVID spike protein binds incredibly powerfully to human receptors (to the human ACE2 receptor); and we know that the Wuhan lab was doing experiments, which was basically train up this bat coronavirus to adapt to the human ACE2 receptor, then, you know, we’re as close as you'll ever get in scientific terms to proving that.

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  3. TopTop #3
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Expert attacks EcoHealth Alliance’s involvement in
    “really risky” bat coronavirus research in Wuhan labs

    May 05, 2020

    Dr Jonathan Latham also points to EcoHealth Alliance’s major conflicts of interest

    Here is the (slightly shortened) transcript of a powerful interview (Background Briefing with Ian Masters, 29 April 2020) that the bioscientist Dr Jonathan Latham, who has a doctorate in virology, did for KPFK Pacifica Radio’s Background Briefing. Background Briefing covers US politics and international affairs. It is broadcast on more than forty radio stations across the US and its programmes are also available as podcasts.

    In the interview, Dr Latham spells out his strong concerns about the kind of research that has been going on in Wuhan, China, which involves bat coronaviruses being put into human cells and optimised to replicate. He also explains the role in this work of the New York based EcoHealth Alliance and how their serious and multiple conflicts of interest have been little explored by the media.

    Listening to the interview, it’s clear that the programme’s host, Ian Masters, is quite surprised by what Jonathan Latham has to say about EcoHealth Alliance. This reflects the free pass they have largely been given by the media, where they have been widely quoted condemning any attempts to link the virus behind the current pandemic to the Wuhan labs, in which they are so heavily invested.

    EcoHealth Alliance has tried instead to keep attention focused on Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Market, or so-called “wet market”, as the source of the outbreak. But as Jonathan Latham says in the interview, not only are there clear reasons to doubt that the wet market was the source, but it also requires you to accept the most staggering coincidence. After all, given that wet markets are widespread in China – indeed across much of Asia, how remarkable is it that the virus’s zoonotic leap from animal to human just happened to take place in one that has a lab under 300 meters away, and another within 10 kilometres, that is researching not just bat coronaviruses, but the most closely related ones to the outbreak?

    And as Jonathan Latham also notes, this research carried out in collaboration with EcoHealth Alliance includes so called “gain-of-function” studies “where you put pieces of humanised virus into animal viruses and then you see how they do in human cells or in other cells”. This is all “providing opportunities for contamination events and leakages from labs, which happen on a routine basis.”

    In other words, the work the EcoHealth Alliance has been funding and enabling in Wuhan has been “providing an evolutionary opportunity for the virus to jump into humans”.

    Yet because of the Trump administration cutting their grant for the Wuhan work, there has been a tendency on the part of many progressives in the US, including the progressive media, to portray EcoHealth Alliance as the innocent victim of Trump’s “bad science” and to enquire no further into the organisation or its activities. As the journalist Sam Husseini has quipped, “It doesn't matter what the actual cause of the pandemic is, it matters what Trump says and we have to attack what Trump says because that's what progressives are supposed to do.”

    If they did take a closer look, as Husseini points out, they’d discover that “among the policy advisors for EcoHealth Alliance are David Franz, a former commander at Fort Detrick, the main US government biowarfare / biodefence facility, who spoke in 2018 at the right-wing Hudson Institute, and Thomas Geisbert, who is doing biodefence / biowarfare work at Galveston.” They would also find, as Latham says below, that their partners include corporate giants implicated in despoiling the natural world that EcoHealth Alliance claims to be intent on protecting.

    Comment by Jonathan Matthews

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    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    "...The Chinese researchers at WIV were receiving assistance from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch and other U.S. organizations, but the Chinese requested additional help. The cables argued that the United States should give the Wuhan lab further support, mainly because its research on bat coronaviruses was important but also dangerous.

    As the cable noted, the U.S. visitors met with Shi Zhengli, the head of the research project, who had been publishing studies related to bat coronaviruses for many years. In November 2017, just before the U.S. officials’ visit, Shi’s team had published research showing that horseshoe bats they had collected from a cave in Yunnan province were very likely from the same bat population that spawned the SARS coronavirus in 2003...

    “Most importantly,” the cable states, “the researchers also showed that various SARS-like coronaviruses can interact with ACE2, the human receptor identified for SARS-coronavirus. This finding strongly suggests that SARS-like coronaviruses from bats can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases. From a public health perspective, this makes the continued surveillance of SARS-like coronaviruses in bats and study of the animal-human interface critical to future emerging coronavirus outbreak prediction and prevention.”

    The research was designed to prevent the next SARS-like pandemic by anticipating how it might emerge. But even in 2015, other scientists questioned whether Shi’s team was taking unnecessary risks. In October 2014, the U.S. government had imposed a moratorium on funding of any research that makes a virus more deadly or contagious, known as “gain-of-function” experiments.

    As many have pointed out, there is no evidence that the virus now plaguing the world was engineered; scientists largely agree it came from animals. But that is not the same as saying it didn’t come from the lab, which spent years testing bat coronaviruses in animals, said Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley.

    “The cable tells us that there have long been concerns about the possibility of the threat to public health that came from this lab’s research, if it was not being adequately conducted and protected,” he said.

    There are similar concerns about the nearby Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention lab, which operates at biosecurity level 2, a level significantly less secure than the level-4 standard claimed by the Wuhan Insititute of Virology lab, Xiao said. That’s important because the Chinese government still refuses to answer basic questions about the origin of the novel coronavirus while suppressing any attempts to examine whether either lab was involved.

    Sources familiar with the cables said they were meant to sound an alarm about the grave safety concerns at the WIV lab, especially regarding its work with bat coronaviruses. The embassy officials were calling for more U.S. attention to this lab and more support for it, to help it fix its problems.

    “The idea that it was just a totally natural occurrence is circumstantial. The evidence it leaked from the lab is circumstantial. Right now, the ledger on the side of it leaking from the lab is packed with bullet points and there’s almost nothing on the other side,” the official said.

    As my colleague David Ignatius noted, the Chinese government’s original story — that the virus emerged from a seafood market in Wuhan — is shaky. Research by Chinese experts published in the Lancet in January showed the first known patient, identified on Dec. 1, had no connection to the market, nor did more than one-third of the cases in the first large cluster. Also, the market didn’t sell bats.

    Shi and other WIV researchers have categorically denied this lab was the origin for the novel coronavirus. On Feb. 3, her team was the first to publicly report the virus known as 2019-nCoV was a bat-derived coronavirus...

    "...The origin story is not just about blame. It’s crucial to understanding how the novel coronavirus pandemic started because that informs how to prevent the next one. The Chinese government must be transparent and answer the questions about the Wuhan labs because they are vital to our scientific understanding of the virus"
    said Xiao.

    We don’t know whether the novel coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab, but the cable pointed to the danger there and increases the impetus to find out, he said.

    “I don’t think it’s a conspiracy theory. I think it’s a legitimate question that needs to be investigated and answered,” he said. “To understand exactly how this originated is critical knowledge for preventing this from happening in the future.”

    = AGAIN =

    "...The research was designed to prevent the next SARS-like pandemic by anticipating how it might emerge. But even in 2015, other scientists questioned whether Shi’s team was taking unnecessary risks. In October 2014, [under Obama, ed.] the U.S. government had imposed a moratorium on funding of any research that makes a virus more deadly or contagious, known as “gain-of-function” experiments..."

    [ Source: Washington Post ]

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  7. TopTop #5
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab with
    U.S. Dollars for Risky Coronavirus Research

    By Fred Guterl
    Newsweek Magazine

    Dr. Anthony Fauci is an adviser to President Donald Trump and something of an American folk hero for his steady, calm leadership during the pandemic crisis. At least one poll shows that Americans trust Fauci more than Trump on the coronavirus pandemic—and few scientists are portrayed on TV by Brad Pitt.

    But just last year, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the organization led by Dr. Fauci, funded scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutions for work on gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses.

    In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.

    Many scientists have criticized gain of function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release.

    SARS-CoV-2 , the virus now causing a global pandemic, is believed to have originated in bats. U.S. intelligence, after originally asserting that the coronavirus had occurred naturally, conceded last month that the pandemic may have originated in a leak from the Wuhan lab. (At this point most scientists say it's possible—but not likely—that the pandemic virus was engineered or manipulated.)

    Dr. Fauci did not respond to Newsweek's requests for comment. NIH responded with a statement that said in part: "Most emerging human viruses come from wildlife, and these represent a significant threat to public health and biosecurity in the US and globally, as demonstrated by the SARS epidemic of 2002-03, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.... scientific research indicates that there is no evidence that suggests the virus was created in a laboratory."

    The NIH research consisted of two parts. The first part began in 2014 and involved surveillance of bat coronaviruses, and had a budget of $3.7 million. The program funded Shi Zheng-Li, a virologist at the Wuhan lab, and other researchers to investigate and catalogue bat coronaviruses in the wild. This part of the project was completed in 2019.

    A second phase of the project, beginning that year, included additional surveillance work but also gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans. The project was run by EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit research group, under the direction of President Peter Daszak, an expert on disease ecology. NIH canceled the project just this past Friday, April 24th, Politico reported. Daszak did not immediately respond to Newsweek requests for comment. {Nor has he ever been made to explain, since. Ed.]

    The project proposal states: "We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential."

    In layman's terms, "spillover potential" refers to the ability of a virus to jump from animals to humans, which requires that the virus be able to attach to receptors in the cells of humans. SARS-CoV-2, for instance, is adept at binding to the ACE2 receptor in human lungs and other organs.

    According to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project description refers to experiments that would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. In the wake of the pandemic, that is a noteworthy detail.

    Ebright, along with many other scientists, has been a vocal opponent of gain-of-function research because of the risk it presents of creating a pandemic through accidental release from a lab.

    Dr. Fauci is renowned for his work on the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1990s. Born in Brooklyn, he graduated first in his class from Cornell University Medical College in 1966. As head of NIAID since 1984, he has served as an adviser to every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan.

    A decade ago, during a controversy over gain-of-function research on bird-flu viruses, Dr. Fauci played an important role in promoting the work. He argued that the research was worth the risk it entailed because it enables scientists to make preparations, such as investigating possible anti-viral medications, that could be useful if and when a pandemic occurred.

    The work in question was a type of gain-of-function research that involved taking wild viruses and passing them through live animals until they mutate into a form that could pose a pandemic threat. Scientists used it to take a virus that was poorly transmitted among humans and make it into one that was highly transmissible—a hallmark of a pandemic virus. This work was done by infecting a series of ferrets, allowing the virus to mutate until a ferret that hadn't been deliberately infected contracted the disease.

    The work entailed risks that worried even seasoned researchers. More than 200 scientists called for the work to be halted. The problem, they said, is that it increased the likelihood that a pandemic would occur through a laboratory accident.

    Dr. Fauci defended the work. "[D]etermining the molecular Achilles' heel of these viruses can allow scientists to identify novel antiviral drug targets that could be used to prevent infection in those at risk or to better treat those who become infected," wrote Fauci and two co-authors in the Washington Post on December 30, 2011. "Decades of experience tells us that disseminating information gained through biomedical research to legitimate scientists and health officials provides a critical foundation for generating appropriate countermeasures and, ultimately, protecting the public health."

    Nevertheless, in 2014, under pressure from the Obama administration, the National of Institutes of Health instituted a moratorium on the work, suspending 21 studies.

    Three years later, though—in December 2017—the NIH ended the moratorium and the second phase of the NIAID project, which included the gain-of-function research, began. The NIH established a framework for determining how the research would go forward: scientists have to get approval from a panel of experts, who would decide whether the risks were justified.

    The reviews were indeed conducted—but in secret, for which the NIH has drawn criticism. In early 2019, after a reporter for Science magazine discovered that the NIH had approved two influenza research projects that used gain of function methods, scientists who oppose this kind of research excoriated the NIH in an editorial in the Washington Post.

    "We have serious doubts about whether these experiments should be conducted at all," wrote Tom Inglesby of Johns Hopkins University and Marc Lipsitch of Harvard. "With deliberations kept behind closed doors, none of us will have the opportunity to understand how the government arrived at these decisions or to judge the rigor and integrity of that process."

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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    ‘Gain-of-Function’ Hall of Shame

    August 6, 2020

    Organic Consumers Association

    The biological weapons industrial complex, the bureaucrats who fund it, the corporations that shape it and the existential risk that genetic engineering and synthetic biology pose to us all

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an ongoing project. Check back frequently as we add new profiles to our Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame.

    Our search for the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 has led us and others—including some of the world’s top independent scientists and investigators—to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

    Below the surface of the various COVID-19 origin narratives being circulated—by the Chinese government, the Trump Administration, Big Pharma and the corporate-owned mass media—there is a secretive and dangerous labyrinth of money, politics and militarism that connects Wuhan and its sister biowar/biodefense/gain-of-function laboratories across the U.S. and the world.

    There are hundreds of labs—in the U.S., China and around the world—that collect and manipulate viruses, including coronaviruses, and bacteria, fungi, and other toxins that cause disease and death. COVID-19 could have come from any number of them—so could the next pandemic.

    In these labs, scientists use genetic engineering and synthetic biology to give pathogens new functions, making them more lethal, contagious, infectious or resistant to treatment.

    This research is euphemistically called gain-of-function research. But we should call it what it is: biological weapons—or “gain-of-threat”—research.

    If the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) were strengthened, labs whose work on coronaviruses could be used to make biological weapons, would be required to disclose their research and BWC investigators would have the power to search them.

    With BWC enforcement, there could be a full investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus. Without this scrutiny, if SARS-CoV-2 did come from a lab, it would be nearly impossible to prove.

    As we follow the evidence—and follow the money—we come face to face with a cast of out-of-control Mad Scientists, militarists and biotech/bio-pharmaceutical entrepreneurs.

    Which of these self-serving characters brought us SARS-CoV-2, which we believe was an accidental, rather than a deliberate release? And who will be responsible for unleashing the next, possibly deadlier, weaponized viruses, bacteria and gene-altered microorganisms in the future?

    PROFILE #4: Peter Daszak

    Peter Daszak is president of EcoHealth Alliance, a top scientific collaborator and a grantwriter for virus hunters and gain-of-function/dual-use researchers, in labs both military and civilian.

    On behalf of the U.S. government, often the military, Daszak and his teams scour the globe for animal pathogens, then bring them back to high-containment laboratories where they catalog, investigate and use genetic engineering and synthetic biology to make the pathogens more infectious, contagious, lethal or drug-resistant.

    Daszak works in labs controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense, in countries in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. Many of these labs are staffed by former biological weapons scientists. (See Arms Watch’s reports).

    Daszak and other gain-of-function researchers justify their experiments this way: If/When an outbreak of a new virus occurs, they can compare it to the ones in their labs, and maybe glean how the novel virus emerged.

    Critics of virus hunting say scientists like Daszak could make a greater contribution to human health by going after the viruses that commonly infect humans, not the ones that never have.

    But that logic doesn't prevent Daszak from pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars to fund his gain-of-function experiments.

    Do Daszak and his collaborators do it just for the money? Or do they have a bigger agenda? And why is the Pentagon constructing new laboratories around the globe, for the “consolidation and securing of pathogens?”

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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Peter ‘Show Me the Money’ Daszak Pulls in Big Bucks,
    through EcoHealth Alliance, for Risky Virus ‘Research

    September 3, 2020
    Organic Consumers Association
    by Alexis Baden-Mayer

    EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth article in our ‘Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame’ series profiling key players in gain-of-function research.

    Peter Daszak, President of EcoHealth Alliance, is a top scientific collaborator, grantwriter and spokesperson for virus hunters and gain-of-function/dual-use researchers, in labs both military and civilian.

    Daszak works with dozens of high-containment laboratories around the world that collect pathogens and use genetic engineering and synthetic biology to make them more infectious, contagious, lethal or drug-resistant. These include labs controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense, in countries in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.

    Many of these labs are staffed by former biological weapons scientists. (See Arms Watch’s reports.)

    Before the Biological Weapons Convention was ratified, this research was called what it is: biological weapons research. Now, it’s euphemistically called gain-of-function or dual-use research.

    Gain-of-function research to alter coronaviruses for the infection of humans goes back to 1999 or earlier, years before the first novel coronavirus outbreak.

    On behalf of the U.S. government, often the military, Daszak scours the globe for animal pathogens and brings them back to the lab to be catalogued, investigated and manipulated.

    Daszak and others justify their research this way: If/When an outbreak of a new virus occurs, they can compare it to the ones in their labs, and maybe glean how the novel virus emerged. A recent Wired magazine article quoting Daszak described how a virus collected in 2012 was found to be a 96-percent match to SARS-CoV-2 in 2020:

    “The search for the source of SARS – which killed more than 770 people two decades ago – has given us a headstart for the current hunt. Wearing hazmat suits and equipped with mist nets, a team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, together with the ecologist and president of EcoHealth Alliance Peter Daszak, ventured into limestone caves to collect faeces and blood samples from thousands of roosting bats before testing them for novel coronaviruses in the lab.

    ‘At the time, we were looking for SARS-related viruses, and this one was 20 percent different,’ says Daszak. ‘We thought it’s interesting, but not high-risk. So we didn’t do anything about it and put it in the freezer.’ The group has found around 500 bat-borne viruses in China over the last 16 years, but only flagged those that most resembled SARS to the authorities – a lack of funding meant they couldn’t further investigate the virus strain now known to be 96 percent genetically similar to the virus that causes Covid-19.”

    Interesting though that story is, it fails to explain how SARS-CoV-2 evolved. Some scientists say it would take 50 years for RaTG13 to turn into SARS-CoV-2. Others propose theories on how the virus might have evolved so quickly, yet still suspect that it escaped from the Wuhan lab.

    Certainly, to learn that the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 has been in the care of the gain-of-function researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for seven years does nothing to allay suspicions that the virus infected humans only after being tinkered with in a lab.

    Still, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is going all-in on virus hunting. The institute just announced a five-year, $82-million investment in a new global network of Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases, including gain-of-function experiments to “determine what genetic or other changes make [animal] pathogens capable of infecting humans.”

    Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance will receive $7.5 million from this grant. This is on top of $100.9 million that EcoHealth Alliance has received in government grants and contracts since 2003. (What was that Daszak said about how “a lack of funding meant they couldn’t further investigate the virus strain now known to be 96-percent genetically similar to the virus that causes Covid-19”)?

    Critics of virus hunting say scientists like Daszak could make a greater contribution to human health by going after the viruses that commonly infect humans, not the ones that never have. According to a 2018 Smithsonian Magazine report:

    “Not everyone thinks that discovering viruses and their hotspots is the best way to prevent pandemics. Dr. Robert B. Tesh, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, says we don't understand enough about zoonotic viruses to create predictive models. ‘A lot of the stuff they produce is hype. … It's more PR than science.’”

    Daszak’s research might be more hype and public relations than science, but the Department of Homeland Security’s National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) has chosen to rely on it. NBIC gave Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance a $2.2-million contract (2016-2019) to create a “Ground Truth Network” of “subject matter experts” who could provide “contextual information pertaining to biological events.”

    The context Daszak invariably provides is a compelling one. Destruction of forests and other encroachments on wildlife habitats, especially the hunting of wild animals and the sale of live animals in wet markets, is forcing humans and animals into uncomfortable proximity. This is bad for vulnerable and endangered species, as well as for humans who are at increasing risk for contracting novel zoonotic diseases.

    Who isn’t shocked and appalled to learn that people eat bats, or that marvelously strange and adorable animals you’ve never heard of―pangolins, civet cats―have had their habitats destroyed and are now being sold for meat at live animal markets?

    Daszak’s framing of the issue―what has come to be known as the One Health approach―has been heartily embraced by the U.S. military.

    But what if the stories being spun by Daszak and his fellow government-supported subject matter experts aren’t supported by the evidence?

    Let’s look at EcoHealth Alliance’s story about Ebola and bushmeat.

    False narrative, tragic outcomes

    From 2011 to 2014, Ecohealth Alliance had a $164,480 purchase order contract from the Centers for Disease Control in Pittsburgh for “Bushmeat.” No more information than that is available on that contract (HHSD2002011M41641P), but the money likely funded a paper Daszak and his colleagues published in 2012.
    The 2012 paper, “Zoonotic Viruses Associated with Illegally Imported Wildlife Products,” was used in August 2014, at the height of the West African Ebola pandemic, as the basis for a Newsweek article titled, “Smuggled Bushmeat Is Ebola’s Back Door to America.”

    The article, which quoted an EcoHealth Alliance spokesperson, spread a false (not to mention racist and xenophobic) narrative, one that subsequently would be thoroughly debunked, that bushmeat smuggled to the U.S. from Africa could transmit Ebola to Americans.

    In January 2015, a meeting of the UK Bushmeat Working Group convened. The group countered Daszak’s misinformation with the facts, in an article titled, “Ebola and Bushmeat: Myth and Reality.” The article stated:

    “As the Ebola virus can remain viable in untreated carcasses for up to 3-4 days, there is a risk of transporting it to bushmeat markets (although there is no evidence of this to date). However, the risk of transmitting Ebola in bushmeat overseas to Europe or the USA is extremely low, given the total travel time and the fact that these carcasses are usually smoked (which probably inactivates the virus). The risk of spread to new areas lies with the movement of infected people, not infected meat.”

    Tragically, the misinformation about bushmeat as a primary cause of Ebola transmission had already been communicated to West Africans in the midst of the crisis, through international health organizations, including Daszak’s funder, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Daszak’s misinformation campaign overshadowed the truth—that the only way Ebola was actually being transmitted during the pandemic was via contact with the bodily fluids of people sick with Ebola, or with their corpses.

    Perpetuating mythical theories

    The SARS pandemic is another instance where Daszak’s theories didn’t pan out.

    It is commonly accepted that the SARS pandemic began in 2002, when humans caught a bat virus from civet cats at a wet market in Guangdong, China. But Daszak and his collaborators admit they have no evidence to explain how the virus leapt from bats to civets to humans.

    SARS-CoV was found in civets at the Guangdong wet market, but civets aren’t the natural reservoir of this virus. Bats are. Only the civets at the market—and no farm-raised or wild civets—carried the virus. None of the animal traders handling the civets at the market had SARS.

    When Daszak and his collaborators at the WIV searched the cave in Yunnan for strains of coronavirus similar to human versions, no single bat actually had SARS. Genetic pieces of the various strains would have to be recombined to make up the human version. Adding to the confusion, Yunnan is about 1,000 kilometers from Guangdong.

    So, how did viruses from bats in Yunnan combine to become deadly to humans, and then travel to civets and people in Guangdong, without causing any illnesses along the way during this 1,000 kilometer trip?
    No one knows. Just like no one knows how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, leapt from bats to pangolins to humans.

    (The most recent study, "Broad host range of SARS-CoV-2 predicted by comparative and structural analysis of ACE2 in vertebrates" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the SARS-CoV-2, which infects human cells through binding of the viral Spike protein to ACE2, has a “very high” binding affinity to ACE2 in "Old World" monkeys apes, and humans. But in bats, the binding affinity is “low” and in pangolins it is “very low.” The authors also noted that “neither experimental infection nor in vitro infection with SARS-CoV-2 has been reported for pangolins.”)

    Daszak continues to tell his bat-origin story, but the science doesn’t back it up.

    That―along with the fact that dozens of labs conduct “gain-of-function” research on bat coronaviruses and there are troubling safety issues at these labs―is why the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is investigating the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab.

    Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Inquiring minds at the NIH want to know...

    Organic Consumers Association
    by Alexis Baden-Mayer

    On July 8, the NIH sent a letter to Daszak asking EcoHealth Alliance to arrange for an inspection of the WIV by an outside team that would examine the facility’s lab and records “with specific attention to addressing the question of whether WIV staff had SARS-CoV-2 in their possession prior to December 2019.”

    The WIV and the Wuhan University School of Public Health are listed as subcontractors for EcoHealth Alliance under a $3.7-million NIH grant titled, “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.” The two institutions also worked as collaborators under another $2.6-million grant, “Risk of Viral Emergence from Bats,” and under EcoHealth Alliance’s largest single source of funding, a $44.2 million sub-grant from the University of California at Davis for the PREDICT project (2015-2020).

    It’s the $44.2-million PREDICT grant that EcoHealth Alliance used to fund the gain-of-function experiment by WIV scientist Zhengli Shi and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Ralph Baric. Shi and Baric used genetic engineering and synthetic biology to create a “new bat SARS-like virus . . . that can jump directly from its bat hosts to humans.”

    Daszak described the work being done by Shi and Baric in a 2019 interview:

    “You can manipulate them [coronaviruses] in the lab pretty easily. Spike protein drives a lot of what happens with the coronavirus, zoonotic risk. So, you can get the sequence, you can build the protein, and we work with Ralph Baric at UNC to do this. Insert it into a backbone of another virus, and do some work in the lab.”

    The work, "A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence," published in Nature in 2015 during the NIH’s moratorium on gain-of-function research, was grandfathered in because it was initiated before the moratorium (officially called the U.S. Government Deliberative Process Research Funding Pause on Selected Gain-of-Function Research Involving Influenza, MERS and SARS Viruses), and because the request by Shi and Baric to continue their research during the moratorium was approved by the NIH.

    As a condition of publication, Nature, like most scientific journals, requires authors to submit new DNA and RNA sequences to GenBank, the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information Database. Yet the new SARS-like virus Shi and Baric created wasn’t deposited in GenBank until May 2020.

    Why stop with Wuhan?

    NIH is right to require that the WIV’s lab and records be opened to outside inspectors.

    But why is the government focusing on just one of EcoHealth Alliance’s projects, when the organization has received $100.9 million in grants, primarily from the Department of Defense, to sample, store and study bat coronaviruses at labs around the world?

    Coronaviruses, both those that have been collected from animals and those that have been created through genetic engineering and synthetic biology, at all of these labs should be compared with SARS-CoV-2.

    Daszak’s collaborators working under contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) aren’t allowed to conduct gain-of-function research unless specifically approved to do so by the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight (P3CO) committee. This committee was set up as a condition for
    lifting the 2014-2017 moratorium on gain-of-function research.

    The P3CO committee operates in secret. Not even a membership list has been released. The only information provided to the public is that Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
    Robert Kadlec appointed HHS Senior Science Advisor Christian Hassell as its chair.

    It’s time to open the records of the PC3O committee’s deliberations and decisions to examine all gain-of-function research on coronaviruses. And every lab manipulating these viruses should have their coronaviruses compared to SARS-CoV-2.

    The Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for its Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (now called the Biological Threat Reduction Program) isn’t supposed to fund gain-of-function (what they call “
    ”) research at all. It’s time to determine whether this prohibition on “dual-use” funding has been adhered to, especially in light of the investments the Pentagon is making across the globe in the construction of new laboratories for the “consolidation and securing of pathogens.”

    DTRA’s mission was to dismantle the biological weapons programs of hostile or destabilized countries. Instead it is being used to develop new biological weapons programs in dozens of countries around the world.

    Even if these programs are purely defensive, they proliferate, around the globe, pathogens with pandemic potential, even though it’s been difficult to keep these dangerous germs under control here in the U.S. (See “The Global Proliferation of High-Containment Biological Laboratories: Understanding the Phenomenon and Its Implications,” and the Government Accountability Office’s reports, “Biological Select Agents and Toxins: Actions Needed to Improve Management of DOD's Biosafety and Biosecurity Program,” and “High-containment Laboratories: Comprehensive and Up-to-Date Policies and Stronger Oversight Mechanisms Needed to Improve Safety”).

    EcoHealth’s tentacles reach far an wide

    EcoHealth Alliance is very much involved in the Pentagon’s proliferation of high-containment biological laboratories. It is conducting DTRA-funded work in the following countries, which are all participants in the Pentagon’s
    Biological Threat Reduction Program.

    Tanzania: In Tanzania, a country that is considered only “partly free,” which has a history of foreign medical experimentation and which didn’t ratify the Biological Weapons Convention until 2019, EcoHealth Alliance has a $5-million Pentagon contract, “Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever: Reducing an Emerging Health Threat in Tanzania.”

    Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne disease, originally only infecting animals, that was discovered by Ottis and Calista Causey while working for the Rockefeller Foundation in Nigeria. There was only ever one case of CCHF in Tanzania, and that was in 1986.

    Gain-of-function research on CCHF is being conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to determine the “mechanisms of CCHF transmission including development of CCHF tick and animal infection methods and CCHF tick-animal transmission models.” (The National Bio and Agro Defense Facility will take over the mission of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and become the lead facility for Foreign Animal Disease research.)

    The National Bio and Agro Defense Facility Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) Zoonotic and Emerging Infectious Disease team’s CCHF Virus Surveillance Project is investigating “the interface between tick vectors, livestock and pastoralist and resource-poor farming communities in Tanzania” as well as the disease’s “molecular pathogenesis.”

    Tanzania is the origin of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that the U.S. has long cultivated as a potential biological weapon. according to a patent held by the University of Texas for a “chimeric” chikungunya virus created through genetic engineering and synthetic biology:

    “The 39 documented laboratory infections reported by HHS in 1981 strongly suggest that Chikungunya virus is infectious via aerosol route. Chikungunya virus was being weaponized by the U.S. Army army when the offensive program was terminated.”

    Tanzania is one of the countries where bat coronaviruses were collected for the PREDICT project.
    Tanzania has one Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratory, the privately owned Ifakara Health Institute, which is partnering with PREDICT to launch “concurrent surveillance of wildlife and people in at-risk areas for viral spillover and spread.”

    South Africa: In South Africa, which had a notorious apartheid-era biological weapons program, EcoHealth Alliance has a $5-million Pentagon contract (2019-2024), “Reducing the Threat of Rift Valley Fever Through Ecology, Epidemiology and Socio-economics.” This is on top of a $4.9-million grant (2014-2019), “Understanding Rift Valley Fever in the Republic of South Africa.

    The last human outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in South Africa occurred in 2010, when the government reported 237 confirmed cases, including 26 deaths from 9 provinces. But there were also a few cases in 2018 among farmworkers who slaughtered infected animals during an outbreak in livestock. The fever can spread from animals to humans if they come into contact with the blood and other body fluids of an infected animal.

    The U.S. military has conducted offensive biological weapons research on Rift Valley Fever.

    South Africa’s biological weapons program included the weaponization of Rift Valley Fever virus obtained from the U.S. government.

    Known as Project Coast, South Africa’s biological weapons program murdered anti-apartheid activists with narcotics and poisons, and attempted a genocide of the black majority by spreading AIDS and by developing pathogens and vaccines that would selectively attack black people with illness, death and infertility.

    Dr. Wouter Basson, the project’s top scientist, told Pretoria High Court in South Africa that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency threatened him with death, presumably to prevent him from revealing the deep connections between Project Coast and the U.S., which had forced President F. W. de Klerk to shut down the project and destroy its records. Basson named the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as his source of eight shipments of Ebola, Marburg and Rift Valley viruses, but claimed that he had obtained the viruses by posing as a medical researcher and hiding his affiliation with the South African Defense Forces.

    Surveys of bats in South Africa found no evidence of bats being natural carriers of Rift Valley Fever virus, but experiments have shown that bats can be infected with it in a laboratory setting.

    A bat coronavirus collected in South Africa in 2011 was thought to be the closest known relative of the MERS-CoV virus that emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012, until a 100-percent match for MERS-CoV was detected by Daszak and his colleagues in viral RNA fragments from an Egyptian tomb bat found near the home of one of the first MERS victims in Saudi Arabia.

    Liberia: In Liberia, which didn’t ratify the Biological Weapons Convention until 2016, EcoHealth Alliance has a $4.91-million Pentagon contract, “Reducing the Threat from High-risk Pathogens Causing Febrile Illness in Liberia.”

    Febrile illnesses include Ebola, which has been the subject of some of the most controversial dual-use research. While the U.S. has a sordid history of biological weapons experimentation on its own people— with conscientious objectors, military “volunteers,” and the general public as frequent subjects—there were some biological weapons tests the Department of Defense considered too unethical to perform within the continental U.S.. Those tests were conducted in other countries, including Liberia.

    Likewise, mirroring medical experimentation on African Americans, there is a history of colonial medical experimentation in Liberia going back to 1926 when the Firestone tire company financed surveys of local diseases they feared could curtail the profitability of their rubber plantations.

    More recently, a failed Pentagon-funded Ebola drug trial caused many Liberians to suspect that the subsequent Ebola outbreak was the fault of Tekmira, the pharmaceutical company that created TKM-100802. Doubt surrounded the official story, promoted by Daszak, that the West African Ebola outbreak happened because bats flew in with the Ebola Zaire virus from 2,500 miles away.

    In January 2014, the Phase I trial for TKM-100802 was launched, but put on clinical hold by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration due to high cytokine release in participants. In a dose-escalation, healthy volunteer study, one (of two) participants dosed at the highest level of 0·5 mg/kg experienced cytokine release syndrome. Cytokine release syndrome is a pro-inflammatory reaction that occurs when activated lymphocytes and/or myeloid cells release soluble immune mediators following administration of certain therapeutic agents, especially monoclonal antibodies. Onset can be rapid (within hours of administration) and can be life-threatening.

    Ultimately, TKM-100802 proved useless for Ebola patients, but the Pentagon’s $140-million investment, and the boost Tekmira’s stock experienced on speculation that Ebola would soon spawn the next $1-billion drug, made many investors rich.

    Suspicions were raised because the TKM-100802 Phase I trial on healthy volunteers began in January 2014, before the first cases of the Ebola outbreak in March 2014.

    Later, the World Health Organization’s Pierre Formenty traced the first case back to late December 2013, in Meliandou, Guinea. There, 50 meters from the home of patient zero, another researcher, Fabian Leendertz, found DNA fragments that matched the Angolan free-tailed bat, a species known to survive experimental infections with Ebola. Then, Daszak’s EcoHealth team found viral RNA fragments of Ebola Zaire in a greater long-fingered bat, captured in 2016 in Liberia's Sanniquellie-Mahn District, which borders Guinea. There was a 1982 article in Annals of Virology in which a trio of Germans reported finding Ebola antibodies in 26 of 433 Liberians (6 percent).

    Bats aren’t the only place to look for Ebola.

    There’s a BSL-4 lab that was handling Zaire Ebola before the pandemic in Kenema, Sierra Leone. This is where international law attorney Francis Boyle, a drafter of the US Biological Weapons and Anti-Terrorism Act passed into law in 1981, believes the pandemic originated.

    There’s also Liberia’s Monkey Island. As the Washington Post reported, that’s where 66 chimpanzees have been since 2004, when they were abandoned by the American scientists at the Liberian labs of the New York Blood Center. From 1974 to 2004, the New York Blood Center captured wild chimps, engaged them in medical experimentation and then released them back into the jungle in a project known as Vilab II (Virology Lab II), which maintained a colony of 200 chimps. Vilab II was built from the remnants of the Liberian Institute of Tropical Medicine.

    Built by Firestone in 1946, the Liberian Institute of Tropical Medicine had once employed 60 scientists, but by 1974, medical doctor Earl Reber was there alone with eight chimps. The roots of the Liberian Institute of Tropical Medicine go back to the research begun in 1926 by Harvard Department of Tropical Medicine chief Richard Pearson Strong.

    Virus hunters like Daszak should have a keen interest in a population of chimpanzees that, for nearly 100 years, has been caught, injected with viruses and then released back into the wild, especially considering the work of the researchers who handled the chimps.

    The New York Blood Center is at the center of a theory on the origin of HIV/AIDS, that it came from a contaminated Hepatitis B vaccine the center distributed to gay men from 1978-1981. The New York Blood Center also tested its vaccine on Liberians.

    Richard Pearson Strong is infamous for killing 13 men when he infected a group of 24 inmates of Manila's Bilibid Prison with plague through a contaminated cholera vaccine. That was prior to his work in Liberia, which is only now being explored, and also involved experiments with humans as well as chimpanzees.

    Georgia: EcoHealth Alliance has a $6.5-million Pentagon grant for “Understanding the Risk of Bat-borne Zoonotic Disease Emergence In Western Asia” (2017-2022).

    Arms Watch reports that this grant involves genetic studies on coronaviruses in 5,000 bats collected in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Jordan. The studies were onducted at the Lugar Center, a $161-million Pentagon-funded biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. Russia claims the Georgia lab is the site of a U.S. biological weapons program.

    According to, EcoHealth Alliance has received $2.88 million in grants for work in Georgia. The Lugar Center is one of the labs that hosts EcoHealth Alliance’s Western Asia Bat Research Network.

    Malaysia: In Malaysia, which is only now in the process of creating a legislative framework for enforcing the Biological Weapons Convention, EcoHealth Alliance had a $1.6-million Pentagon grant (2017-2019) for “Serological Biosurveillance for Spillover of Henipaviruses and Filoviruses at Agricultural and Hunting Human Animal Interfaces in Peninsular Malaysia.”

    There are no known cases of filovirus infections in humans in Malaysia. But Malaysia is the origin of the Nipah virus, first recognized in 1999, during an outbreak among farmers and farmworkers in factory farms and slaughterhouses producing pork. The virus spread to Singapore. In all, there were 265 cases of acute encephalitis with 105 deaths, and the billion-dollar pig-farming industry nearly collapsed. No new outbreaks have been reported in Malaysia since 1999.

    Nipah virus, a zoonotic pathogen for which no treatments exist, is the inspiration for the film “Contagion.” The virus can only be experimented on in BSL-4 laboratories. The National Bio and Agro-Defence Facility in Kansas will be the first biocontainment facility in the U.S. where research on Nipah and Ebola (a filovirus) can be conducted on livestock.

    In 2019, Nipah Malaysia was among the deadly virus strains shipped from Canada's National Microbiology Lab to the WIV.

    Henipaviruses, in the paramyxovirus family, were the first emerging diseases linked to bats. In June 2012, in the same Chinese cave (actually an old copper mine where workers doing cleanup had become sick and died) in which Daszak’s WIV colleagues found SARS-CoV-2’s most closely related coronavirus, another frequent collaborator of Daszak’s, Zhiqiang Wu of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, found a new henipavirus-like pathogen in a rat, naming it the “Mojiang paramyxovirus,” after the county in Yunnan province where it was found.

    Malaysia was the planned site of a BSL-4 laboratory run by the pharmaceutical company Emergent Biosolutions for the production of a halal version of the BioThrax vaccine. But that project failed.

    In addition to the Pentagon funding, Dazsak obtained $1.7 million in grants (2002-2005) from NIH’s Fogarty International Center for “Anthropogenic Change & Emerging Zoonotic Paramyxoviruses.” In 2012-2014, Daszak had a $569,700 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Service for “Development of a Great Ape Health Unit in Sabah, Malaysia.”

    Daszak has a new National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant, “Understanding Risk of Zoonotic Virus Emergence in EID Hotspots of Southeast Asia,” for $1.5 million (2020). The grant is for an “Emerging Infectious Diseases - South East Asia Research Collaboration Hub (EID-SEARCH)” that “brings leaders in emerging disease research from the U.S., Thailand, Singapore and the three major Malaysian administrative regions together to build an early warning system to safeguard against pandemic disease threats. This team will identify novel viruses from Southeast Asian wildlife [and] characterize their capacity to infect and cause illness in people…”

    Other Pentagon contracts: EcoHealth Alliance had a $1-million Pentagon contract (2017-2019) for an Inbound Bio-event Information System (IBIS), “a web-based application and early warning system for global infectious disease bio-events that threaten the U.S. via international transportation networks.”

    EcoHealth Alliance also had another $4.5-million Pentagon contract (HDTRA115C0041) for 2015-2017. No other information is available on this contract other than that it is for “Applied Research/Exploratory Development” in the “Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology).”

    Department of Homeland Security Contracts: EcoHealth Alliance has a $566,300 contract (2019-2021) with the Department of Homeland Security for the Rapid Evaluation of Pathogens to Prevent Epidemics in Livestock (REPEL) project “to apply biological-based, pathogen agnostic medical countermeasure vaccine and diagnostic platforms to develop foreign animal and emerging zoonotic livestock disease vaccines.”

    Department of Health and Human Services Funding: Daszak obtained a $300,000-grant in 2012 from NIH’s Fogarty International Center for research on “Comparative Spillover Dynamics of Avian Influenza In Endemic Countries.” While most of the research listed in the “results” section of the grant are flu-related, it also includes the WIV’s paper, “Isolation and Characterization of a Bat SARS-like Coronavirus that Uses the ACE2 Receptor.”
    Daszak was given $3.7 million in grants (2002-2012) from NIH’s Fogarty International Center for “The Ecology, Emergence And Pandemic Potential of Nipah Virus in Bangladesh.”

    The grants Daszak used to support the work of the WIV were a $3.7-million grant (2014-2020) “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” and a $2.6-million grant (2008-2012) “Risk of Viral Emergence From Bats,” each from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

    U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding: In Thailand, EcoHealth Alliance has a $647,200-grant for “One Health Workforce - Next Generation” (2019-2020).

    Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.
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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Article from The Times of Israel:

    "Why US outsourced bat virus research to Wuhan"
    by Christina Lin, April 25, 2020

    US-funded $3.7 million project approved by Trump’s Covid-19 guru Dr Anthony Fauci in 2015 after US ban imposed on ‘monster-germ’ research

    A recent Daily Mail article revealed that the US National Institute of Health (NIH) funded bat coronavirus research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology to the tune of $3.7 million.

    Back in October 2014, the US government had placed a federal moratorium on gain-of-function (GOF) research—altering natural pathogens to make them more deadly and infectious–as a result of rising fears about a possible pandemic caused by accidental or deliberate release of these genetically engineered monster germs.

    This was in part due to lab accidents at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in July 2014 that raised questions about biosafety at US high-containment labs.

    At that time, the CDC had closed two labs and halted some biological shipments in the wake of several incidents in which highly pathogenic microbes were mishandled by federal laboratories: an accidental shipment of live anthrax, the discovery of forgotten, live smallpox samples, and a newly revealed incident in which a dangerous influenza strain was accidentally shipped from CDC to another lab.

    A CDC internal report described how scientists failed to follow proper procedures to ensure samples were inactivated before they left the lab, and also found “multiple other problems” with operating procedures in the anthrax lab.

    As such in October 2014, due to public health concerns the US government banned all federal funding on efforts to weaponize three viruses—influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

    In the face of a moratorium in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci–director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and currently the leading doctor in the US Coronavirus Task Force–outsourced in 2015 the GOF research to China’s Wuhan lab and licensed the lab to continue receiving federal funding.
    The Wuhan lab is now at the center of scrutiny for possibly releasing theSARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and causing the global Covid-19 pandemic.

    Understandably, China’s lab would likely struggle with safety issues given the fact US labs also share similar problems, and indeed in January 2018 the US embassy in Beijing sent cables warning about safety of the Wuhan lab and asked for help.

    Additionally, the cable warned the researchers “showed that various SARS-like corona-viruses can interact with ACE2, the human receptor identified for SARS-corona-virus,” meaning bat corona-viruses can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases.

    Now, the US is up in arms to hold China accountable for the global corona-virus pandemic, filing class action lawsuits domestically, as well as building a coalition with allies internationally.

    Lawsuits have been filed within the US and the International Criminal Court that China used the virus as a bioweapon, and other suits are underway at the International Court of Justice. GOP lawmakers such as Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep. Dan Crenshaw have also introduced legislation that would allow Americans to sue China in federal court over the death and economic damage wrought by the virus.

    US spy agencies are also investigating whether the virus originated in the Wuhan lab, and seeking evidence that is needed to support the bio WMD theory promoted by GOP lawmakers.

    If evidence is found that Covid-19 is a biological weapon, some pundits such as Fox News host Lou Dobbs have called for the US to declare war on China.

    Nonetheless, it is unclear what the legal ramifications would be if the virus is indeed leaked from a Chinese lab, but from a research project that was outsourced and funded by the US government.

    Also, if there is a government ban in 2014 on federal funding being used for GOF research, what are the federal compliance and ethical issues surrounding the fact that NIH still gave federal funding instead of private funding to the Wuhan lab to continue the experiments?

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  16. TopTop #10
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Project G-2101: Pentagon biolab discovered
    MERS and SARS-like coronaviruses in bats

    By Dilyana Gaytandzhieva

    The Lugar Center, the Pentagon-funded biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi (photo: Dilyana Gaytandzhieva)

    Two years ago, I investigated an alleged laboratory accident at the Lugar Center, the Pentagon biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, which had resulted in the death of two Filipinos working in the laboratory. The death cases were hidden by the local authorities but I recorded on camera witnesses who testified about this tragic incident.

    However, what then seemed to me to be a local issue, turned out to be part of a bigger story. The Lugar Center in Georgia is just one of the many Pentagon biolaboratories in 25 countries across the world. They are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under a $ 2.1 billion military program – Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), and are located in former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. Much of their work is classified and includes projects on bio-agents and pathogens with pandemic potential.

    The first known case of use of biological weapons in our history was 250 years ago when the British gave blankets infected with smallpox to the indigenous people of North America. As a result, a great many of them died and the British Empire gained control over the whole continent. Biological weapons are definitely much more effective than nuclear weapons. The use of nuclear weapons leaves traces: an airplane taking off from an aerodrome and launching a rocket, a large number of participants in preparation of an attack. Therefore, the perpetrators can be easily detected and held to account. Conversely, viruses can be used as weapons, though, they do not leave such immediate or discernible traces and it takes only a few crazy people who have decided to kill millions.

    According to some scientific estimates, biological weapons can potentially destroy up to two thirds of the global population in just a year. Our world is one big metropolis and even one virus engineered in a laboratory would be able to fulfil this goal in a short period of time, at a minimal cost and without leaving traces to the perpetrator.

    Below, I am presenting information about what I have discovered while investigating Pentagon biolaboratories abroad.

    Genetic Study on Bats

    The Lugar Center, a $161 million Pentagon-funded biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, discovered coronaviruses in bats with presumably pandemic potential as early as 2014, documents have revealed.

    Furthermore, in 2017 the Pentagon launched a $6.5 million program in cooperation with the Lugar Center involving genetic studies on coronaviruses in 5,000 bats collected in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Jordan. Coincidentally, the same Pentagon contractor tasked with the US DoD bat-research program – Eco Health Alliance,USA - also collected bats and isolated coronaviruses along with Chinese scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Eco Health Alliance received a $3.7 million grant from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to collect and study coronaviruses in bats in China from 2014 to 2019.

    Novel Coronaviruses

    The Lugar Center sparked controversy about possible dual-use research in 2018 when leaked documents revealed that US diplomats in Georgia were involved in trafficking of frozen human blood and pathogens for a secret military program.

    Documents reveal that the Lugar Center also studied coronaviruses in bats.

    In 2012 the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) collected and sampled 236 bats for research in Georgia in cooperation with the Lugar Center. The project was funded by the US DoD Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Part of the samples were shipped to CDC (Atlanta), for screening for multiple pathogens, another part was stored at the Lugar Center for further studies.

    In 2014 the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) launched a second project “Emerging zoonotic pathogens in Georgian bats” along with Georgian scientists at the Lugar Center. The project was funded by the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC).

    Former Bioweapon Scientists working at the Lugar Center
    ISTC, the organisation that funded the bat project in Georgia in 2014, was established in 1992 as a non-proliferation international program, providing former biological and chemical weapons scientists with new opportunities for sustainable, peaceful employment. Seven of the Georgian scientists involved in the ISTC bat research project in Georgia turn out to be former bioweapon scientists who had previously worked on the development of bioweapons, according to the ISTC project documents. Among them is Paata Imnadze, the deputy-director of the Georgian National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) where the Lugar Center is located.

    [ Continues ]

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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    New data leak from the Pentagon
    biolaboratory in Georgia

    By Dilyana Gaytandzhieva

    Leaked e-mails between the Lugar Center, the Pentagon biolaboratory in Tbilisi, the US Embassy to Georgia and the Georgian Ministry of Health reveal new information about the $161 million secretive US Government biological research program in this former Soviet country.

    The data allegedly originating from the Ministry of Health of Georgia has been published anonymously on Twitter and on a forum for database leaks – Raidforums. Among the documents there are internal memos, official letters and detailed information about US government projects at the Lugar Center, funding and foreign business trips.

    Arms Watch volunteers have analyzed the leaked data and discovered very interesting facts about the Center’s recent activities.
    The Pentagon has planned to turn Georgia into its largest biological research center overseas, combining its military resources with the resources of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Georgia.

    Furthermore, the number of US projects and grants have increased as well as the number of US scientists deployed to the Lugar Center. The Pentagon-funded facility is planned to temporarily accommodate 16 CDC specialists from Atlanta, for whom Georgia will build a separate BSL-2 laboratory, administrative building and a campus near the Lugar Center. In addition, Georgia will become a regional CDC hub for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, internal documents reveal.

    The Lugar Center already sparked controversy about possible dual-use research in 2018 when leaked documents revealed that US diplomats in Georgia were involved in the trafficking of frozen human blood and pathogens for a secret military program.

    The Lugar Center is just one of the many
    Pentagon biolaboratories in 25 countries across the world. They are funded by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under a $ 2.1 billion military program – Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), and are located in former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia (the motherland of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin) and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.

    Pentagon research on bioterrorism agents at the Lugar Center :

    US military scientists have been deployed to Georgia for research on bioterrorism agents at the Lugar Center, according to the new data leak.
    These bio-agents have the potential to be aerosolized and used as bioweapons. Among them anthrax, tularemia, Brucella, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, Hantavirus, Y. pestis (causing the disease plague).

    The US military biological research projects in Georgia have been funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). According to internal data, American and Georgian scientists are currently working on the following DTRA projects in the Lugar Center:

    In 2017 the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) launched a $6.5 million project on bats and coronaviruses in Western Asia (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Jordan) with the Lugar Center being the local laboratory for this genetic research. The duration of the program is 5 years and has been implemented by the non-profit US organisation Eco Health Alliance.

    The project’s objectives are: 1. Capture and non-lethally sample 5,000 bats in 5-year period (2017-2022) 2. Collect 20,000 samples (i.e. oral, rectal swabs and/or feces, and blood) and screen for coronaviruses using consensus PCR at regional labs in Georgia and Jordan. According to the project presentation, Eco Health Alliance already sampled 270 bats of 9 species in three Western Asian countries: 90 individual bats in Turkey (Aug 2018), Georgia (Sept 2018), and Jordan (Oct 2018).

    EcoHealth Alliance and Georgian scientists sampling a bat
    for coronavirus research in 2018 (Facebook, Keti Sidamonidze)

    Coincidentally, the same Pentagon contractor tasked with the US DoD bat-research program – Eco Health Alliance, USA, also collected bats and isolated coronaviruses along with Chinese scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. EcoHealth Alliance received a $3.7 million grant from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to collect and study coronaviruses in bats in China from 2014 to 2019.

    [ Continues... ]
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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    “No monkey ever reheated a frozen burrito” – What
    The Expanse
    tells us about the COVID-19 pandemic
    and serial passage
    gain-of-function research

    Over the past several months, thousands of humans have lost their lives since COVID-19 kicked-off its killing spree in Wuhan, and barring an absolute miracle millions more all across the planet will join them in the months to come. Comparisons to the pandemic caused by the Spanish Flu earlier in the twentieth century abound, however one thing is clear: Whether due to globalization or to internal differences between the viruses, while the Spanish Flu was a slow-moving miasma that took years to unfurl across the globe, the Wuhan strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, has blanketed the entire planet in just a few months.

    Factories all across the planet have ground to a halt, stores are shuttered, tens of millions are quarantined across multiple continents, and supply chains are straining.

    And oddly, even though there is nothing even beginning to approach conclusive evidence that COVID-19 was a naturally emergent strain that made its way out of an intermediate animal host and into humans, the general consensus in the media and the public seems to be that exploring its origins is something only done by people who’ve yet to buy that the Earth is in fact round and that we actually did land on the moon. And everyone seems to be okay with the fact that the scientists crowing the loudest about a natural origin, are the ones directly involved with the type of research that likely spawned this virus: Gain-of-function, or “dual-use” research that meant to push Nature past her limits, so that humans can harness her to create monsters that would never occur naturally.

    Why the concentrated push to marginalize anyone asking for conclusive proof about where COVID-19 came from? Who benefits?

    Scientists have been directly altering and modifying viral genomes for at least the past twenty years, doing everything from building complete viruses from scratch, to tweaking them and then passing them through series of animal hosts to artificially speed selection and evolution along so that they’re able have as many different strains of virus with as many novel features as possible to tinker with.

    However most of this work didn’t really raise too many eyebrows, until about ten years ago when scientists including some in Stony Brook, NY – not coincidentally also the first place to build a DNA-virus from scratch – took the H5N1 Bird Flu, tweaked its genome in two places, and then passed it through a series of ferret hosts in the lab until it became airborne. This sort of research, a minor alteration and then passage through ferrets, did two things: Resulted in a virus that would look natural and wouldn’t appear to have been directly genetically altered, and also created a virus that was way out on its own branch of the viral family tree since those sequential passages added generations far faster than they’d naturally occur in the wild. If that sounds familiar, maybe that’s because those traits are also exactly what’s found with COVID-19.

    And as far back as 2015, Chinese labs were reported to have been involved with dual-use gain-of-function research after the Chinese military made a massive push to expand their biotechnological capabilities, swapping around viral genomes in the lab to try to create the most virulent strain possible. Additionally, studies examining COVID-19’s infectivity in ferrets found that it spreads readily among them, and also appears airborne in that animal model, lending support to the idea that ferrets were used for serial passage. Further support for possibility that serial passage through lab animals played a role in the creation of COVID-19 comes from an April 2020 pre-print, which found that coronaviruses that target the ACE2 receptor bind with ferrets cells more tightly than any other species except the tree shrew, which only scored about 2% higher. Tree shrews have also been used for serial viral passage, and were promoted in a 2018 paper out of China as a preferable host for laboratory serial passage since they’re cheaper, smaller, easier to handle, and closer to humans evolutionarily and physiologically than ferrets. Pangolins however, formed a much weaker bond than either, and were clustered way down on the list along with a handful of other much more unlikely intermediate animal hosts.

    Quite curiously, one of the scientists supporting this troubling research in an article that noted the virus “could change history if it was ever set free” appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2020 a few weeks into the current pandemic, claiming that COVID-19 was definitely natural and making no mention of this animal-based dual-use gain-of-function research at all. Odd, right? It’s almost like Michael Osterholm, whose entire career rests on advancing gain-of-function of research, might want to whitewash what’s really going on? Did that sunshine tickle when it was being blown up your ass, Joe?

    Osterholm failed to tell the story of this genetically modified H5N1 Bird Flu, which was turned into a virus that “could make the deadly 1918 pandemic look like a pesky cold.” This result was so troubling that the NIH, which had funded the research, tried to make sure that the it would only be published after enough details were taken out to make replication of the experiment tough to perform. However one of the virologists involved in the research thought these restrictions were a bit silly, since the gist of the experiment was enough to allow anyone with enough money to replicate them without a problem. Especially researchers who were already familiar with manipulating bat coronaviruses, two of whom learned how to do exactly that at UNC in 2015 before returning to Wuhan to continue their work.

    A few years later the NIH would ban this dual-use “gain-of-function” research, a ban that would remain in place from 2014 until 2017, when it was lifted. And what was the reasoning behind lifting the ban? To allow for research on flu viruses, as well as SARS and MERS – coronaviruses just like our new friend, COVID-19. And so hundreds of millions of dollars of funding poured into research on these viruses, supposedly with oversight meant to reduce “the potential to create, transfer, or use an enhanced potential pandemic pathogen.”

    Turns out, that oversight might not have worked out too well, witnessed by the thousands who have already died from COVID-19.

    “But it is only a machine. It doesn’t think. It follows instructions. If we learn
    how to alter that programming, then we become the architects of that change.”

    And so since 2017 the floodgates have been opened, and money has poured in to fund gain-of-function research on coronaviruses, and they’ve been seen as everything from a potential base to create an HIV-vaccine from, to being able to help scientists in their mission to create a universal vaccine against the flu and common cold. Unsurprisingly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped bankroll Event 201, has also poured millions and millions of dollars into the search for a vaccine against HIV, much of which is centered around harnessing coronaviruses.

    Gate’s previous forays into vaccination programs haven’t always gone so well, in 2009 a Gates-sponsored HPV vaccine from Merck caused severe side effects among hundreds of the girls it was administered to, ultimately killing seven of them. In addition to the faulty science behind this vaccine program, was evidence that the majority of patients had no idea what they were signing up for, but were pushed through into treatment anyways.

    More unethical behavior was reported in the Gates-funded MenAfriVac campaign in Chad, which between 50 and 500 children vaccinated for meningitis were reported to develop paralysis, leading a South African newspaper to announce that “we are guinea pigs for the drug-makers.” If you’re skeptical about those claims and the sourcing, a peer-reviewed look at the DTP and polio vaccine found that it caused much more harm than good during a huge vaccine campaign in urban Africa. And there are a scattershot of other accounts covering possible malfeasance by Gates-funded vaccination programs all across the globe. So not that Bill Gates is personally punching little kids in the face, but that his well-meaning funding may end up in a lot of the wrong places in the blind pursuit for results, providing financing for very shady and not-entirely ethical practices.

    Pointing out the funding from their foundation isn’t meant to demonize the Gates family, only to begin to build the idea that accountability does’t lie with the scientists in Wuhan alone, or the Chinese Communist Party for trying to cover-up the beginning of the pandemic. And to point out that nothing about being a computer scientist or a businessman has anything to do with public health policy, or the scientific and social implications around gain-of-function research. Why the NIH allowed this really obvious Pandora’s Box to be reopened in the first place deserves to be answered, and the organizations funding this research should carry much of the blame as well – the NIH included, which has provided the Wuhan Institute of virology with a $3.7 million grant.
    Bill Gates might want to be an effective philanthropist really bad, and he may have been amazing at designing computer software and undercutting his competition – however that doesn’t a philanthropist make. After all, beyond the questionable tactics practiced by many of the vaccination programs he’s funded, his very well-intentioned attempt to save lives by providing insecticidal mosquito-nets was ultimately destructive: many of the villagers provided with the mosquito-nets decided they were better used as fishing-nets, resulting in food shortages due to over-fishing from the fact the nets smaller weave caught far too many juvenile fish, undercutting population growth.

    Seemed like a good idea at the time, right? Just like all those untested vaccines that were rushed into distribution?

    “Distributed responsibility is the problem. One person gives the order, another carries it out. One can say they didn’t pull the trigger, the other that they were just doing what they were told, and everyone lets themselves off the hook.”

    Far more sinister than the Gates Foundation funding dual-use gain-of-function research is the involvement of scientists hoping exclusively to bankroll their own companies through this kind of work.

    While The Expanse had Jules-Pierre Mao, a scientist-CEO who used his private company to hybridize the protomolecule – a mysterious alien substance that seems to have a mind of its own – with humans to create unstoppable biological weapons to auction off to the highest bidder, today we have Peter Daszak. His company, EcoHealth Alliance, which is a non-profit that depends largely on multi-hundred million dollar government grants to function, has been partnering with Chinese researchers for years in an attempt to secure funding for more and more research into coronaviruses. And Daszak has been at the forefront as painting a lab escape as a dangerous conspiracy theory that was somehow impeding research into the pandemic, seemingly giving as many interviews as he can without disclosing the glaring conflict of interest that he’s been the PI on these research grants and netting himself a six-figure salary for years, and hailing virologists as the only thing between humanity and catastrophe – a job they now calculate will run humanity over $22 billion a year.

    And in one of the more transparent attempts at blatant PR-spin, Daszak was featured alongside one of the researchers who learned how to create hyper-virulent bat coronaviruses at UNC back in 2015, Zhengli Shi. Their article insists we should take Zhengli at her word when she claims to have not found a match after she checked COVID-19’s genome against everything in all the various labs in Wuhan. As if someone responsible for releasing the most virulent pathogen to hit humanity in modern history, one that’s already killed thousands and is projected to kill millions and millions more all across the globe, would simply fess-up to it, torpedoing her career and the years of research performed by her and her colleagues? And possibly opening all of them up to legal and other repercussions?

    If you still aren’t sure whether the scientists involved with kind of research are being forthright, there’s Dr. Ralph Baric. It was in his lab at UNC that a hyper-virulent bat Franken-virus was created by splicing a new protein-spike on an existing coronavirus, creating a monster so vicious that a virologist with the Louis Pasteur Institute of Paris warned: “If the [new] virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory.”

    It should also be noted that several years prior to tinkering directly with bat coronavirus spike-proteins, Baric orchestrated research that involved isolating a coronavirus from civets and then passing it through mammalian ACE2 receptor cells that were grown in the lab from kidney and brain samples – serial passage through host cell lines instead of entire hosts, which imparted a strong affinity for ACE2, and presumably created an airborne strain of coronavirus. And if cells derived from kidneys and brains were used for the serial passage development of COVID-19, that might help explain its affinity for attacking the kidneys and brains of its human hosts.

    Previous research done in the Wuhan lab looking at inserting HIV-like segments into coronaviruses that also target the ACE2 receptor may also have played a role in the creation of COVID-19. One possible reason for these HIV-like segments is that they were meant to be epitopes, or molecular flags meant to mark intruders for a vaccine to target – meaning the Wuhan Strain was built as a monster for a specific vaccine to hunt. It is mathematically possible for this to happen in nature – but only in a ten-thousand bats chained to ten-thousand Petri dishes and given until infinity sense.Alternatively, this pattern could also be produced by infecting a room full of ferrets or tree shrews with a bespoke coronavirus and sifting through the wreckage for your genomic needle.

    So if he was being honest, you might expect Baric to warn the public about the pandemic potential coronaviruses pose during our current outbreak. However, when he was asked if the public should be worried about COVID-19 he said that people should be more worried about the seasonal flu. Pretty bizarre statement from a scientist who knew full well how dangerous coronaviruses could be and would have had no way of knowing back in January how virulent COVID-19 would or wouldn’t be, especially given the fact that not only was Zhengli Shi working in his lab on that project in 2015, but Xing-Yi Ge was too. Both of whom returned to Wuhan where they’ve continued their work for years. However one possible explanation is the fact that COVID-19 does only present as a light flu in the mink farms its infested, and with minks being a subspecies of ferrets – if ferrets were used for serial passage experiments and the virologists working with them noticed the novel coronavirus only presented as a mild flu in the lab ferrets, this information could have made its way out into their community and fueled the preposterous assertions that COVID-19 is anything like a mild flu.

    Xing-Yi Ge is especially notable since in 2013 he became the very first scientist to isolate a bat coronavirus from nature that uses the ACE2 receptor, which is found in human, tree shrew, and ferret lungs and allows coronaviruses to become airborne. And as you might have learned by now, that’s the exact receptor used by COVID-19 to enter human cells – if anyone would know how to finagle that part of the coronavirus genome, it’d be him. So both Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli Shi were part of the research team that created this hybridized hyper-virulent bat coronavirus under Baric, who’s actively downplayed the risk posed by COVID-19, and then returned to work in Wuhan, where funding provided in part by Daszak’s company allowed them to continue their work on coronaviruses with plenty of research to cut-and-paste into their work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Disease Engineering Technical Research Center.

    And as Dr. Ian Malcolm puts it in Jurassic Park, it is never a good idea to futz around with science and research when you don’t fully understand it, nor its possible implications.

    However it wasn’t just Daszak funding their work, Zhengli also secured millions of dollars in grant money from various American institutions including our Department of Defense as well as the U.S. Biological Defense Research Directorate, and millions more from other foreign governments.

    So although the Chinese Communist Party deserves its share of the blame for attempting to cover the outbreak up, arresting the heroic scientists trying to warn us and issuing gag-orders and the destruction of evidence, this research likely wouldn’t have occurred at all if the NIH hadn’t lifted the ban on gain-of-function research in the first place. And it was funded directly by American tax dollars, by government officials willing to let others play god at their behest.

    But now that the virus is out of the lab, are the private entities responsible for its creation going to bear any of the blame at all? Or will America and China continue to point fingers at each other until the worst happens?

    [ Source ]

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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Scientists outraged by Peter Daszak
    leading enquiry into possible Covid lab leak

    by Jonathan Matthews
    September 23, 2020

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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Why are the lab escape denialists telling such brazen lies?

    by Jonathan Matthews
    June 17, 2020

    Or how Peter Daszak is SARS-CoV-2's “Patient Zero for misinformation” but a media darling.

    A recent Guardian headline instructs us to “ignore the conspiracy theories” about the potential role of a Wuhan biolab in the emergence of the virus that triggered the current pandemic. The accompanying article is the latest broadside from what the investigative journalist Sam Husseini has called the “loud crowd” involved in dangerous work with viruses, who have been busily denouncing any effort to scrutinise their work. Of these loud denialists, no one has been more vocal than the article’s author: Peter Daszak.

    Since the start of the pandemic, Daszak has been all over the world’s media, as well as social media, decrying suggestions that SARS-CoV-2 might have come out of a lab as “preposterous”, “baseless”, “crackpot”, “conspiracy theories”, and “pure baloney”. And he has backed up these complete dismissals with a welter of questionable claims.

    According to Daszak:

    * Zoonotic jumps, where viruses cross species from animals to infect humans, “occur every day”, and
    * Evidence shows bats infect large numbers of people with SARS-related coronaviruses, so “It's utterly illogical to think that this did not lead to the current outbreak”
    * By contrast, “only a handful of people work on bat coronaviruses in labs in China” and they are well protected
    * Plus there are “huge piles of rules and regulations governing what they do”
    * In any case, people always say disease outbreaks “could have come from a lab”
    * But in reality “lab accidents are extremely rare”, and
    * Lab escapes “have never led to largescale [disease] outbreaks”
    * Anyway, there are no relevant live viruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, only data on computers, so nothing could escape
    * Meanwhile the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s work on bat coronaviruses has been valuable for developing treatments, and
    * “I have no conflicts of interest”.

    The mainstream media have challenged very few, if any, of Daszak’s assertions. And judging by the deletion from The Guardian website of virologist Dr Jonathan Latham’s brief comment[1] on Daszak’s recent article, they don’t want anyone else to challenge his narrative either.

    Far from facing critical scrutiny, Daszak has been presented as a hero – a brave virus hunter on a quest to locate and understand dangerous pathogens and alert the world to their dangers. In this narrative, he and his colleagues are experts racing against time to identify and mitigate the threat of pandemics. And sympathy for them has been amplified in the liberal media by the perception that they’re the victims of Trump and the China-bashers, who are deflecting from the President’s lamentable performance in tackling the pandemic.

    But a number of well-informed scientific commentators are far from willing to give Daszak a free pass. One of them is the American biologist and evolutionary theorist Prof Bret Weinstein, who recently commented, “In looking at all of the sources that claim to put the idea of a lab leak to rest, I find the name Peter Daszak… shows up all over the place. He’s everywhere the idea is mocked.” But the information Daszak presents invariably does not check out, Weinstein says, and as a result, I have begun to regard him as Patient Zero for misinformation.”

    Another staunch critic is Rutgers University microbiologist Prof Richard Ebright, who has publicly
    accused Daszak of lying brazenly and “on a Trumpian scale”. Ebright has repeatedly subjected Daszak’s statements to the kind of forensic scrutiny many of his scientist colleagues and the media have been unwilling to provide. His incisive criticisms of Daszak’s assertions have largely been made on Twitter and so we draw heavily on his tweets in what follows.

    “No conflicts of interest”

    Back in mid-February, when the world was still counting COVID-19 deaths in the hundreds and almost all the deaths were still in China, a letter signed by Daszak and 26 co-signatories was published in The Lancet, condemning “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin”. An article in Science explained that the signatories were “pushing back against a steady stream of stories and even a scientific paper suggesting a laboratory in Wuhan, China, may be the origin of the outbreak of COVID-19”.

    The signatories all declared they had “no competing interests” – but that certainly wasn’t true in the case of Peter Daszak. Daszak is the founder and President of
    EcoHealth Alliance, a US non-profit that among other things has been a conduit for US funding for research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, including the gain-of-function research banned in the US from 2014-2017. Gain-of-function research seeks to study viruses by making them more virulent or transmissible, but has come under heavy scientific criticism for risking creating pandemics via leaks from the labs where it is carried out.

    When Daszak similarly told the
    Washington Post, “I have no conflicts of interest,” Richard Ebright pointed out that Daszak was Project Leader on a $3.7 million “grant supporting bat coronavirus surveillance at Wuhan Institute of Virology and … bat coronavirus gain-of-function research at Wuhan Institute of Virology. If that is not a material conflict of interest,” Ebright tweeted, “then nothing is.”

    And he’s right. If it emerged that this type of research created a global pandemic it could be immensely damaging for Daszak and his organisation, both reputationally and financially. And the financial impact would almost certainly go wider than just the Wuhan
    grant that was recently suspended.

    Commenting on an attempt to
    compile a fuller picture of the funding EcoHealth Alliance has received from US government agencies, Ebright noted that it totalled $99.8 million “for federal contract awards, contract subawards, grant awards, and grant subawards to EcoHealth”. Most of this money, he said, came from US defence, homeland security and intelligence agencies.

    In fact, according to their most recently available financial
    report, over 90% of EcoHealth Alliance’s funding ultimately derives in this way from US taxpayers. Incidentally, Daszak’s salary and other compensation amounted in that same year to just over $400,000.

    Zoonotic “jumps occur every day”

    So how reliable are Peter Daszak’s other assertions? One of Daszak’s favourite claims is that viruses frequently cross into humans from other species in so-called zoonotic jumps, or “spillover”. But this claim is far from mainstream. As the experts who answered questions on this for the BBC’s Science Focus Magazine explain, “Because every virus has evolved to target a particular species, it’s rare for a virus to be able to jump to another species” (emphasis added).

    Remember that word “rare”, because we’ll keep coming across it as we examine Daszak’s claims to have evidence of the exact opposite: that bats – the prime suspects for the origin of SARS-CoV-2 – routinely infect huge numbers of people with SARS-related coronaviruses.

    Evidence shows bats infect large numbers of people with SARS-related coronaviruses

    In his recent Guardian piece telling people to “ignore the conspiracy theories”, Daszak claimed, “(W)e can safely estimate that between one and seven million people are infected with bat coronaviruses each year.”

    So what is the evidence for this massive level of infection? Daszak summarises it in a tweet: “We conducted sero-surveys in SE Asia & found 3% of rural people have antibodies to bat CoVs [coronaviruses]. That means 1-7 million people per year exposed to bat origin SARS-related CoVs.”

    But the study on which Daszak bases his claim of up to 7 million people per year being infected by bat origin SARS-related coronaviruses involved collecting serum samples from just 218 residents in four remote villages in Jinning County, Yunnan province, China – villages located close to bat caves containing the Chinese horseshoe bats that have been shown to be a reservoir of these particular coronaviruses. Of these 218 “high risk” residents, only 6 of them (2.7%) showed signs of having developed antibodies to bat coronaviruses.

    As a co-author of this study, Daszak must know that it concluded, “The 2.7% seropositivity for the high risk group of residents living in close proximity to bat colonies suggests that spillover is a relatively rare event” (emphasis added). What’s more, another larger and more recent study that Daszak also co-authored went on to remove the “relatively” from the “rare” in that statement. This second study found only 0.6% (rather than 2.7%) of people living in close proximity to SARS-linked bat caves tested positive for bat coronaviruses. Its conclusion: “spillover is a rare event” (emphasis added).

    In fact, the biotech entrepreneur Yuri Deigin says the evidence for these particular bat viruses infecting humans is even weaker than these preliminary studies admit. That is because there is no evidence that the viruses they were looking for antibodies to were actually capable of infecting people. Deigin also notes that the antibody levels detected were “pretty low”. But more importantly, as he points out, antibody production is not always evidence of a virus having got inside someone’s cells, just inside their body. He says, “The presence of antibodies, doesn’t mean the virus could infect cells. You could have antibodies to a banana.”

    So even the modest conclusion to Daszak’s most recent paper – that bat-related zoonotic jumps are a “rare event” – is open to question. And his use of these studies to claim people in rural areas are infected by bat coronaviruses “on a daily basis”, as he recently told the BBC, is certainly not supported by his evidence.

    Virus researchers are well protected

    Daszak’s bigging up of zoonotic leaps is a key part of his argument as to why it would be crazy to consider the possibility of a lab leak with SARS-COV-19. After all, he argues, with so many people being infected with bat coronaviruses each year, “It's utterly illogical to think that this did not lead to the current outbreak.”

    And he contrasts his bogus claim of evidence for mass infection with SARS-related bat coronaviruses with the small number of trained researchers with full protective equipment who might come into contact with such viruses as part of their work.

    A recent CNN article about Daszak and his fellow virus hunters, who search bat caves in order to obtain bat blood, saliva, and fecal samples to test back in Wuhan, begins by setting the scene: “Before entering the cave, the small team of scientists pull on hazmat suits, face masks and thick gloves to cover every inch of their skin. Contact with bat droppings or urine could expose them to some of the world's deadliest unknown viruses.”

    CNN’s piece is accompanied by photos showing scientists covered head to toe in full protective gear. But while this all fits the Daszak narrative, other pictures have surfaced showing staff from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) entering caves to collect novel bat coronaviruses, or handling bats and swabs, with only minimal personal protective equipment (PPE) and in some cases none at all.

    For instance, a profile in Scientific American of Shi Zhengli, who heads up the WIV’s bat coronavirus programme, contains a photo of her wearing no protective equipment other than thin gloves when releasing a bat after taking a blood sample. Another published photo shows her and a group of colleagues wearing the most minimal PPE while handling bats – no goggles, bare arms in several cases, and one researcher doesn’t even have a face mask.

    Richard Ebright also points to a Chinese official state media video from December 2019 showing Wuhan CDC staffer and Shi Zhengli collaborator Tian Junhua “collecting novel bat coronaviruses with inadequate PPE (bare skin on face, bare skin on wrists, no goggles, no faceshield)”.

    A similar news report from 2017, according to Ebright, describes the “same Wuhan CDC staffer collecting novel bat coronaviruses with no PPE”. Bat urine is said to have “dripped from the top of his head like raindrops”. And, “Several times, bat blood was sprayed directly on Tian Junhua's skin. But Tian Junhua did not flinch at all.”
    Ebright calls this kind of virus hunting “reckless Indiana-Jones-style adventurism”.

    Collection of pictures by @BillyBostickson of Shi Zengli and other
    Wuhan researchers collecting and handling bats without full PPE

    [ Source ]

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  26. TopTop #15
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Tracing the origins of COVID-19

    Lawrence Sellin

    May 24, 2020

    On December 9, 2019, long before the world knew anything about it, a video interview took place with one of the key players in the COVID-19 drama, Dr Peter Daszak, President of the EcoHealth Alliance, who inadvertently may have provided indications of its true origin.

    Much of that discussion centred around the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS) epidemic of 2002-2004, which was believed to have originated in bats, although civets may have acted as an intermediate host.

    While circulating in animals, the SARS virus mutated, acquiring the ability to infect humans, which it was assumed to have done so, infecting workers in a Guangdong, China animal market.

    That explanation became the narrative now being promoted by the Chinese Communist Party, the media and some Western scientists to convince the world that COVID-19 was a naturally-occurring outbreak.

    Beginning at 27:49, Dr Daszak explains the basis of the naturally-occurring narrative and the collection of over one hundred bat coronaviruses capable of infecting humans, but untreatable with drugs or vaccines. Those coronaviruses are presumed to be stored in Chinese laboratories.

    “So, we did a couple of things with it. So, one is around SARS. We focused on SARS coronavirus emerged from a wildlife market. And whilst the first pandemic of this century. So, it’s big event. And, so we started to trace back from the wildlife market, which species carried the virus, that came into those markets. We found that it was bats, not civets, was the original idea. So, we started looking where did they come from. And we went out to southern China. And did surveillance of bats across southern China. And we’ve now found, after six or seven years of doing this, over one hundred new SARS-related coronaviruses, very close to SARS. Some of them get into human cells in the lab. And some of them can cause SARS disease in humanized mouse models. And are untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals [antibodies] and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine.”

    At 29:51, Dr Daszak describes bioengineering of those viruses by inserting components of one coronavirus into another.

    “Well, I think, coronavirus is a pretty good, I mean, you’re a virologist [the interviewer], you know all this stuff, but the, you can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily. Spike protein drives a lot of what happens with the coronavirus, zoonotic risk. So, you can get the sequence, you can build the protein, and we work with Ralph Baric at UNC [University of North Carolina] to do this. Insert it into a backbone of another virus, and do some work in the lab. So, you can get more predictive, when you find the sequence. You have this diversity. Now, the logical progression for vaccines is, if you are going to develop a vaccine for SARS, people are going to use pandemic SARS, but let’s try to insert these other related and get a better vaccine.”

    In 2015, Ralph Baric from the University of North Carolina and Zheng-Li Shi, the “bat woman” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology jointly published a scientific article describing the combination of the receptor-binding spike protein from a newly isolated coronavirus (SHC014) and the “backbone” from SARS-CoV, the coronavirus responsible for the 2002-2003 pandemic.

    That experiment produced a novel virus, chimera SHC014-MA15, which showed “robust viral replication both in vitro [cell cultures] and in vivo [animals],” using models adapted to test human infectivity.

    The scientific consensus claims that COVID-19, like SARS, originated in bats.

    There is conclusive scientific evidence, however, that COVID-19’s receptor binding domain within the spike protein is structurally closest to that of pangolins (scaly anteaters), not bats, and it was the result of a recombination, not convergent evolution.

    Yet, pangolins have beenruled out as the intermediate host for COVID-19.

    Even Dr Ralph Baric in a March 15, 2020
    , beginning at the 27:40 time point, stated unequivocally, that pangolins were not the source of COVID-19:

    Pangolins have over 3,000
    nucleotide changes - no way they are the reservoir species [for COVID-19], absolutely no chance.”

    It is, therefore, logical to conclude that the recombinant event resulting in a pangolin receptor binding domain within a bat coronavirus backbone must have occurred in a laboratory, in a manner similar to the experiment conducted by Ralph Baric and Zheng-Li Shi in 2015.

    Furthermore, COVID-19’s S1/S2 furin polybasic cleavage site, a distinctive feature widely known for its ability to enhance pathogenicity and transmissibility in coronaviruses, does not appear in any of 45 bat, 5 human SARS, 2 civet, 1 pangolin and 1 racoon dog coronaviruses, that have S1/S2 junction structures otherwise identical or nearly identical to COVID-19.

    There is no credible scientific evidence that the furin polybasic cleavage site evolved naturally, although the methods for artificially inserting such cleavage sites are well-established.

    It is important to note that the EcoHealth Alliance gets 80% of its funding from the U.S. government (9:22), has “been working in China for years” (19:40), and presumably uses U.S. taxpayer money to “hire technicians in labs or Ph.D. students” (12:08) in order to “teach people how to do it and give them the capacity and the tools” and “then you have really made a difference” (13:15).

    Indeed. The EcoHealth Alliance may have really made a difference.

    [ Source ]

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    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Party-line & Mantra Regarding Dr. Peter Daszak :

    EcoHealth Alliance


    Dr. Peter Daszak is President of EcoHealth Alliance, a US-based 501 (c) 3 organization working on the environmental linkages to health. Dr. Daszak’s research has been instrumental in demonstrating that global environmental change causes significant health impacts to human, animal and planetary health. This includes providing key evidence that it leads to largescale increase in chronic and non-communicable diseases, the emergence of pandemics, and the spillover of pathogens leading to extinction of wildlife. He showed that links among human demography, and global environmental change can be used to produce global emerging disease ‘hotspots’ maps that are used by national and intergovernmental agencies to prioritize surveillance efforts in people and livestock. He is a leader in the fields of One Health, EcoHealth and Planetary Health, and in understanding the complex links between biodiversity, ecosystem services and health. Dr. Daszak is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and Chair of the NASEM’s Forum on Microbial Threats. He is a member of the NRC Advisory Committee to the
    US Global Change Research Program, the Supervisory Board of the One Health Platform, the One Health Commission Council of Advisors, the CEEZAD External Advisory Board, the Cosmos Club, and the Advisory Council of the Bridge Collaborative. He is a former member of the Scientific Committee, and Treasurer of DIVERSITAS, and has served on the IOM Committee on global surveillance for emerging zoonoses, the NRC committee on the future of veterinary research, the International Standing Advisory Board of the Australian Biosecurity CRC; and has advised the Director for Medical Preparedness Policy on the White House National Security Staff on global health issues. Dr. Daszak is a regular advisor to WHO on pathogen prioritization for R&D. Dr. Daszak won the 2000 CSIRO medal for collaborative research on the discovery of amphibian chytridiomycosis. He is on the Editorial Board of Conservation Biology, One Health, One Health Outlook, GeoHealth,Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Ecohealth. He has authored over 300 scientific papers, was listed as a Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers in 2018, and his work has been the focus of extensive media coverage.


    Ecology/Species interactions and interrelationships
    Behaviour and values

    [ Source ]


    In every rendition of information regarding Dr. Peter Daszak,
    you will find a portion of these words, in near-identical format.

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  29. TopTop #17
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    EcoHealth Alliance Hid Nearly $40 Million in Pentagon Funding

    By Sam Husseini
    12 / 18 / 2020

    Investigation reveals $34.6 million of the just-under $39 million EcoHealth Alliance received in Pentagon funding from 2013 to 2020 came from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a branch of the DOD tasked to “counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and improvised threat networks.”

    “Pandemics are like terrorist attacks: We know roughly where they originate and what’s responsible for them, but we don’t know exactly when the next one will happen. They need to be handled the same way — by identifying all possible sources and dismantling those before the next pandemic strikes.”

    This statement was written in the New York Times earlier this year by Peter Daszak. Daszak is the longtime president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based non-profit whose claimed focus is pandemic prevention. But the EcoHealth Alliance, it turns out, is at the very center of the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways.

    To depict the pandemic in such militarized terms is, for Daszak, a commonplace. In an Oct. 7 online talk organized by Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Daszak presented a slide titled “Donald Rumsfeld’s Prescient Speech.”:

    “There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we don’t know we don’t know.” (This Rumsfeld quote is in fact from a news conference)

    In the subsequent online discussion, Daszak emphasized the parallels between his own crusade and Rumsfeld’s, since, according to Daszak, the “potential for unknown attacks” is “the same for viruses”.

    Daszak then proceeded with a not terribly subtle pitch for over a billion dollars. This money would support a fledgling virus hunting and surveillance project of his, the Global Virome Project — a “doable project” he assured watchers — given the cost of the pandemic to governments and various industries.

    Also on the video was Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs. Sachs is a former special advisor to the UN, the former head of the Millennium Villages Project, and was recently appointed Chair of the newly-formed EAT Lancet Commission on the pandemic. In September, Sachs’ commission named Daszak to head up its committee on the pandemic’s origins. Daszak is also on the WHO’s committee to investigate the pandemic’s origin. He is the only individual on both committees.

    These leadership positions are not the only reason why Peter Daszak is such a central figure in the COVID-19 pandemic, however. His appointment dismayed many of those who are aware that Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance funded bat coronavirus research, including virus collection, at the Wuhan Institute for Virology (WIV) and thus could themselves be directly implicated in the outbreak.

    For his part, Daszak has repeatedly dismissed the notion that the pandemic could have a lab origin. In fact, a recent FOIA by the transparency group U.S. Right To Know revealed that Peter Daszak drafted an influential multi-author letter published on Feb. 18 in the Lancet. That letter dismissed lab origin hypotheses as “conspiracy theory.” Daszak was revealed to have orchestrated the letter such as to “avoid the appearance of a political statement.”

    Sachs for his part seemed surprised by Daszak’s depiction of Rumsfeld but Daszak reassured him. “It’s an awesome quote! And yes, it’s Donald Rumsfeld, Jeff, and I know he’s a Republican, but — what a genius!”

    Following the EcoHealth Alliance’s money trail to the Pentagon

    Collecting dangerous viruses is typically justified as a preventive and defensive activity, getting ahead of what “Nature” or “The Terrorists” might throw at us. But by its nature, this work is “dual use.” “Biodefense” is often just as easily biowarfare since biodefense and the products of biowarfare are identical. It’s simply a matter of what the stated goals are.

    This is openly acknowledged [see below] by scientists associated with EcoHealth Alliance when talking about alleged programs in other countries — like Iraq.

    For much of this year, Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance garnered a great deal of sympathetic media coverage after its $3.7 million five-year NIH grant was prematurely cut when the Trump administration learned that EcoHealth Alliance funded bat coronavirus research at the WIV.

    The temporary cut was widely depicted in major media as Trump undermining the EcoHealth Alliance’s noble fight against pandemics. The termination was reversed by NIH in late August, and even upped to $7.5 million. But entirely overlooked amid the claims and counter-claims was that far more funding for the EcoHealth Alliance comes from the Pentagon than the NIH.

    To be strictly fair to the media, Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance obscures its Pentagon funding. On its website EcoHealth Alliance states that “A copy of the EHA Grant Management Manual is available upon request to the EHA Chief Financial Officer at finance ( at )”. But an email to that address and numerous others, including Peter Daszak’s, requesting that Manual, as well as other financial information, was not returned. Neither were repeated voicemails.

    Only buried under their “Privacy Policy,” under a section titled “EcoHealth Alliance Policy Regarding Conflict of Interest in Research,” does the EcoHealth Alliance concede it is the “recipient of various grant awards from federal agencies including the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense.”

    Even this listing is deceptive. It obscures that its two largest funders are the Pentagon and the State Department (USAID); whereas the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which accounts for a minuscule $74,487, comes before either.

    Meticulous investigation of U.S. government databases reveals that Pentagon funding for the EcoHealth Alliance from 2013 to 2020, including contracts, grants and subcontracts, was just under $39 million. Most, $34.6 million, was from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which is a branch of the DOD which states it is tasked to “counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and improvised threat networks.”
    Most of the remaining money to EHA was from USAID, comprising at least $64,700,000*. These two sources thus total over $103 million. (See Fig).

    Summary of EHA Grants and Contracts. Note this figure doesn’t count subcontracts so it undercounts USAID’s contribution. Credit: James Baratta and Mariamne Everett
    *The figure for EHA’s USAID funding was obtained from the University of California at Davis, a major grantee of PREDICT funds, which EHA has been a major sub-grantee of Davis confirmed that EHA’s funding from PREDICT totaled $64,722,669 (PREDICT-1: 2009 to 2014: $19,943,214; PREDICT-2: 2014 to present (2020) $44,779,455)

    Another $20 million came from Health and Human Services ($13 million, which includes National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control), National Science Foundation ($2.6 million), Department of Homeland Security ($2.3 million), Department of Commerce ($1.2 million), Department of Agriculture ($0.6 million), and Department of Interior ($0.3 million). So, total U.S. government funding for EHA to-date stands at $123 million, approximately one third of which comes from the Pentagon directly. The full funding breakdown is available here and is summarized by year, source, and type, in a spreadsheet format.

    Pdf versions of this spreadsheet are available to download. The summary is here and all Federal grants and contracts are here.

    More military connections

    The military links of the EcoHealth Alliance are not limited to money and mindset. One noteworthy ‘policy advisor’ to the EcoHealth Alliance is David Franz. Franz is former commander of Fort Detrick, which is the principal U.S. government biowarfare/biodefense facility.

    David Franz was part of UNSCOM which inspected Iraq for alleged bioweapons — what were constantly referred to as WMDs or Weapons of Mass Destruction by the U.S. government and the media. Franz has been one of those eager to state, at least when discussing alleged Iraqi programs, that “in biology … everything is dual use — the people, the facilities and the equipment.” (NPR, May 14, 2003; link no longer available).

    Just this year Franz wrote a piece with former New York Times journalist Judith Miller, whose stories of Iraqi WMDs did much to misinform the U.S. public regarding the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Their joint article, “A Biosecurity Failure: America’s key lab for fighting infectious disease has become a Pentagon backwater,” urges more funding for Fort Detrick.

    Miller and Franz are long-time associates. Miller co-wrote the book Germs, released amid the 2001 false flag anthrax attacks, which repeatedly quotes Franz. Miller at the time received a hoax letter with a harmless white powder, increasing her prominence.

    Franz continued hyping the existence of Iraqi WMDs even after the invasion of Iraq. While she was still with the Times, Miller quoted him in a story “U.S. Analysts Link Iraq Labs To Germ Arms” on May 21, 2003 pushing the theory that Iraq had mobile biological WMD units. (This theory was debunked by the British scientist Dr. David Kelly, who would die, apparently by suicide, soon thereafter.)

    Four significant insights emerge from all this. First, although it is called the EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak and his non-profit work closely with the military. Second, the EcoHealth Alliance attempts to conceal these military connections. Third, through militaristic language and analogies Daszak and his colleagues promote what is often referred to as, and even then somewhat euphemistically, an ongoing agenda known as “securitization.” In this case it is the securitization of infectious diseases and of global public health. That is, they argue that pandemics constitute a vast and existential threat. They minimize the very real risks associated with their work, and sell it as a billion dollar solution. The fourth insight is that Daszak himself, as the Godfather of the Global Virome Project, stands to benefit from the likely outlay of public funds.

    [ Source ]

    Originally posted by Independent Science News.

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  30. TopTop #18
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    New Coronavirus Emerges From Bats in China, Devastates Young Swine
    Identified in Same Region, from Same Bats, as SARS Coronavirus

    April 4, 2018

    Horseshoe bat

    Credit: EcoHealth Alliance

    A newly identified coronavirus that killed nearly 25,000 piglets in 2016-17 in China emerged from horseshoe bats near the origin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which emerged in 2002 in the same bat species. The new virus is named swine acute diarrhea syndrome coronavirus (SADS-CoV). It does not appear to infect people, unlike SARS-CoV which infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774. No SARS-CoV cases have been identified since 2004. The study investigators identified SADS-CoV on four pig farms in China’s Guangdong Province. The work was a collaboration among scientists from EcoHealth Alliance, Duke-NUS Medical School, Wuhan Institute of Virology and other organizations, and was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

    The research is published in the journal Nature.

    The researchers say the finding is an important reminder that identifying new viruses in animals and quickly determining their potential to infect people is a key way to reduce global health threats.

    Researchers preparing to locate bats in a Chinese cave

    Credit: EcoHealth Alliance

    SADS-CoV began killing piglets on a farm near Foshan in Guangdong Province in late October 2016. Investigators initially suspected porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) as the cause. PEDV is a type of coronavirus common to swine that had been identified at the Foshan farm. Detection of PEDV ceased by mid-January 2017, yet piglets continued to die, suggesting a different cause. Scientists say separating sick sows and piglets from the rest of the herd helped stop the outbreak of SADS-CoV by May 2017.

    Investigators confirmed the connection of SADS-CoV to bats by identifying the new virus in the small intestine of piglets from the outbreak. They then determined that the genetic sequence of SADS-CoV is similar to that of a bat coronavirus discovered in 2007 and looked for evidence of SADS-CoV in bat specimens collected from 2013 to 2016 in Guangdong Province. The new virus appeared in 71 of 596 specimens (11.9 percent).

    The researchers also tested 35 farm workers who had close contact with sick pigs, none of whom tested positive for SADS-CoV.

    Currently six coronaviruses are known to cause disease in people, but so far only two of them—SARS-CoV and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus—have caused large outbreaks of fatal illness in people.

    P Zhou, et al. Fatal swine acute diarrhea syndrome caused by an HKU2-related coronavirus of bat origin. Nature DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0010-9 (2018).

    NIAID’s Erik Stemmy, Ph.D., Human Coronavirus Research Program Officer, is available for comment.

    This research was supported by NIAID award R01AI110964.
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  31. TopTop #19
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Scientist Who Led Charge Against COVID Lab Leak Theory
    Admits He Was Trying To Protect Chinese Scientists

    by Andrew Kerr
    Investigative Reporter

    January 18, 2021

    JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Image

    • Dr. Peter Daszak orchestrated a statement at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that condemned “conspiracy theories” that the virus doesn’t have a natural origin.
    • Daszak admitted on Friday through a spokesman that he issued the statement to protect Chinese scientists from online criticism.
    • Daszak has worked directly with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and allegedly played a key role in directing taxpayer-funded grants to the research center.
    • The State Department announced on Friday that it has obtained evidence showing that researchers at the WIV became sick with flu-like symptoms in Fall 2019, prior to the first known cases of COVID-19.

    The U.S. scientist behind an effort to stymie debate surrounding the possibility that COVID-19 could have accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology admitted through a spokesman that he did so to protect Chinese scientists from online criticism.

    Dr. Peter Daszak, the president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, orchestrated a statement published in The Lancet medical journal in February, prior to any serious research on the origins of COVID-19, condemning “conspiracy theories” that suggest the virus doesn’t have a natural origin.

    Daszak has worked directly with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was studying bat-based coronaviruses prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, and he allegedly played an influential role in directing two taxpayer-funded grants from the National Institute of Health to the Chinese research center.

    An email obtained by U.S. Right to Know, an investigative research group, shows that Daszak worked to significantly broaden a line in the draft version of the statement that had condemned the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was a Chinese manufactured bio-weapon.

    “I think this is a bit too specific, because there are other conspiracy theories out there,” Daszak said in the Feb. 6, 2020, email. “Our current statement neatly refutes most of them by saying that ‘We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that 2019-nCoV does not have a natural origin. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this virus originated in wildlife, as have many other emerging diseases.”

    A spokesman for Daszak told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that his statement, which was cited by numerous news outlets — and by fact check organizations to censor unwelcome inquiries — during the onset of the pandemic, was meant to protect Chinese scientists.

    “The Lancet letter was written during a time in which Chinese scientists were receiving death threats and the letter was intended as a showing of support for them as they were caught between important work trying to stop an outbreak and the crush of online harassment,” Daszak’s spokesman told The Journal.

    Daszak did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation when asked if he maintains that there is no possibility that COVID-19 could have been released into the human population due to an accidental lab release.

    The World Health Organization appointed Daszak to a 10-person panel that began investigating the origins on the ground in China on Thursday. Independent experts have criticized Daszak’s inclusion on the panel due to his prior connections with the WIV.

    “The independence of the WHO investigation may be seriously compromised by the processed used to choose investigators … In particular, the choice of Dr. Daszak, who has a personal stake in ensuring current Chinese practices continue and who is a longtime collaborator of a scientist at the center of the investigation, is likely to taint its results,” said Miles Pomper, a fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

    The State Department announced on Friday that it has obtained evidence showing that researchers at the WIV became sick with flu-like symptoms in Fall 2019 prior to the first known cases of COVID-19, raising concerns of an accidental lab leak.

    “The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses,” the State Department said.

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  33. TopTop #20
    podfish's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Mayacaman: View Post
    A spokesman for Daszak told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that his statement, which was cited by numerous news outlets — and by fact check organizations to censor unwelcome inquiries — during the onset of the pandemic, was meant to protect Chinese scientists.
    this innocent enough statement is surrounded by buckets of words that do nothing to support the underlying implication, to defend the inference of the missing word "solely" -- or maybe "dishonestly" or "misleadingly".

    Read this sentence again: a spokesman, not Daszak himself, mentions one possible motive for him speaking. Says nothing about the legitimacy of what he said, nothing about other reasons he may have had for speaking out.

    In the verbiage around this money quote, there could have been supporting evidence as to why those missing words are plausible to infer. But... nope.

    That's the big issue I have with so many of the contrarian views posted here. They are structured like the proverbial pile in front of the Christmas tree, which can only exist if there's a pony inside it. Especially for science-based arguments, the ideal is a chain of reasoning where objections against each step are considered carefully to see if they hold up against alternative explanations. Now, as I often say, this is just the interwebs so that's a lot to ask. Still, it'd be nice.
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  35. TopTop #21
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    Peter, instead of holding on to your preconceptions about the origins of the virus that were cultivated early on, why don't you take my advice and A. Open up a file and label it "Corona-virus Controversy". B. Print the following articles up. & C. Study them. Why not re-examine your assumptions?

    Transcript of Interview of Dr. Francis Boyle
    [the lawyer who drafted the Bio-weapons Treaty of 1989]

    Interview of Dr. Peter Daszak by Amy Goodman - April 16, 2020
    Zoologist Debunks Trump’s COVID-19 Origin Theory, Calling It “Pure Baloney”

    Article by Fred Guterl in Newsweek, April 28, 2020:
    Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab with U.S. Dollars for Risky Coronavirus Research

    Article by Josh Rogin, in the Washington Post, April 14, 2020
    State Department cables warned of safety issues

    at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruses

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  36. TopTop #22
    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Re: Who is Dr. Peter Daszak ? - A Critical Inquiry

    WHO inspector caught on camera revealing
    coronavirus manipulation in Wuhan before pandemic

    Video shows scientist mention coronavirus experimentation in Wuhan lab weeks before pandemic

    By Keoni Everington,
    Taiwan News,
    January 18, 2021

    Vincent Racaniello (left), Peter Daszak (right). (YouTube, TWiV 615 screenshot)

    TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Video taken just days before the start of the coronavirus pandemic shows a current World Health Organization (WHO) inspector discuss the testing of modified coronaviruses on human cells and humanized mice in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), just weeks before the first cases of COVID-19 were announced in the city of Wuhan itself.

    In a video that was originally taken on Dec. 9, 2019, three weeks before the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announced an outbreak of a new form of pneumonia, virologist Vincent Racaniello interviewed British zoologist and president of EcoHealth Alliance Peter Daszak about his work at the nonprofit to protect the world from the emergence of new diseases and predict pandemics. Since 2014, Daszak's organization has received millions of dollars of funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which it has funneled to the WIV to carry out research on bat coronaviruses.

    In the first phase of research, which took place from 2014 to 2019, Daszak coordinated with Shi Zhengli, (石正麗), also known as "Bat Woman," at the WIV on investigating and cataloging bat coronaviruses across China. EcoHealth Alliance received US$3.7 million in funding from the NIH for this research and 10 percent was channeled to the WIV, reported NPR.

    The second, more dangerous phase, which started in 2019, involved gain-of-function (GoF) research on coronaviruses and chimeras in humanized mice from the lab of Ralph S. Baric of the University of North Carolina. Funding for the program was withdrawn by the NIH under the Trump administration on April 27 amid the pandemic.
    At the 28:10 mark of the podcast interview, Daszak states that researchers found that SARS likely originated from bats and then set out to find more SARS-related coronaviruses, eventually finding over 100. He observed that some coronaviruses can "get into human cells in the lab," and others can cause SARS disease in "humanized mouse models."
    He ominously warned that such coronaviruses are "untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals [antibodies] and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine." Ironically, he claims that his team's goal was trying to find the next "spillover event" that could cause the next pandemic, mere weeks before cases of COVID-19 were beginning to be reported in Wuhan.

    When Racaniello asks what can be done to deal with coronavirus given that there is no vaccine or therapeutic for them, Daszak at the 29:54 mark appears to reveal that the goal of the GoF experiments was to develop a pan-coronavirus vaccine for many different types of coronaviruses.

    Based on his response, it is evident that just before the start of the pandemic, the WIV was modifying coronaviruses in the lab. "You can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily." What he then mentioned has become the telltale trait of SARS-CoV-2, its spike protein: "Spike protein drives a lot of what happens with the coronavirus, zoonotic risk."

    Daszak mentions the WIV's collaboration with Baric: "and we work with Ralph Baric at UNC [University of North Carolina] to do this." As has been suggested by proponents that SARS-CoV-2 is a chimera made in a lab, he speaks of inserting the spike protein "into a backbone of another virus" and then doing "some work in the lab."

    Providing evidence of the creation of chimeras for the sake of a vaccine, he states "Now, the logical progression for vaccines is, if you are going to develop a vaccine for SARS, people are going to use pandemic SARS, but let’s try to insert these other related diseases and get a better vaccine.”

    Based on Daszak's statements, it appears that just before the start of the pandemic, the WIV was using GoF experiments with chimeras in an attempt to create a vaccine. These experiments appeared to have included infecting mice genetically modified to express the human ACE2 protein with these chimeras.

    In a presentation titled "Assessing Coronavirus Threats," which was delivered four years before the pandemic in 2015, Daszak points out that experiments involving humanized mice have the highest degree of risk. Demonstrating his close ties with the WIV, he also listed the lab as a collaborator at the end of the presentation.

    (Assessing Coronavirus threats, Peter Daszak image)

    Controversially, Daszak has been included among a team of experts from the WHO that has finally been allowed by Beijing to investigate the origin of the outbreak of COVID-19, over a year after it started. Scientists such as Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, are condemning Daszak's participation due to conflicts of interest "that unequivocally disqualify him from being part of an investigation of the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic," reported the Daily Mail.

    In light of the WHO's trip to Wuhan, a researcher who goes by the pseudonym Billy Bostickson and his colleagues at DRASTIC (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19) have created a petition demanding that the international investigation team answer 50 key questions about the outbreak in Wuhan. Among the questions is a request to access to the facility's database and laboratory records, which are supposed to go back 20 years and include a look at its safety procedures, safety audit reports, and safety incident reports.

    TWiV 615: Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance

    [ Source ]

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