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FTR#1189 The Oswald Institute of Virology, Part 8: Covid-19 and The American Deep State, Part 2 (The Cover-Up Obviates the Conspiracy)

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FTR #1189 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: This pro­gram con­tin­ues our series ana­lyz­ing the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy as hav­ing been set up to take the fall for the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, which–in our con­sid­ered opinion–is a covert oper­a­tion by the U.S. as part of the full-court press against Chi­na.

Under­scor­ing a point of analy­sis from pre­vi­ous broad­casts, we note that, of para­mount impor­tance in this con­text, is the fact that ANY virus can be made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry, from scratch as is being done for the SARS-CoV­‑2 (Covid-19) virus.

Ralph Baric–who did the gain-of-func­tion mod­i­fi­ca­tion on the Horse­shoe Bat coro­n­avirus, has been select­ed to engi­neer the Covid-19.

Note what might be termed a “viro­log­ic Juras­sic Park” man­i­fes­ta­tion: ” . . . . The tech­nol­o­gy imme­di­ate­ly cre­at­ed bio-weapon wor­ries. . . . Researchers at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) drove that point home in 2005 when they res­ur­rect­ed the influen­za virus that killed tens of mil­lions in 1918–1919. . . .

Cen­tral to the inquiry about a lab­o­ra­to­ry gen­e­sis for the virus is Ralph Bar­ic. We note that:

  1. Bar­ic’s mod­i­fi­ca­tion of a horse­shoe bat virus to make it more infec­tious (in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Shi Zhengli and in an Eco­Health Alliance affil­i­at­ed project) took place in North Car­oli­na, not Wuhan. “. . . . Crit­ics have jumped on this paper as evi­dence that Shi was con­duct­ing “gain of func­tion” exper­i­ments that could have cre­at­ed a super­bug, but Shi denies it. The research cit­ed in the paper was con­duct­ed in North Car­oli­na.
  2. Bar­ic has been using relat­ed tech­niques to text remde­sivir (in 2017) and the Mod­er­na vac­cine. This places him in a milieu inex­tri­ca­bly linked to the mil­i­tary and pre-dat­ing the pan­dem­ic. ” . . . . Using a sim­i­lar tech­nique, in 2017, Baric’s lab showed that remde­sivir — cur­rent­ly the only licensed drug for treat­ing covid — could be use­ful in fight­ing coro­n­avirus infec­tions. Bar­ic also helped test the Mod­er­na covid vac­cine and a lead­ing new drug can­di­date against covid. . . .”

Next, we present analy­sis of a very impor­tant, albeit slant­ed Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle:

  1. Pom­peo State Depart­ment offi­cials pur­su­ing the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis were told to cov­er it up lest it shed light on U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of research at the “Oswald Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy!”: ” . . . . In one State Depart­ment meet­ing, offi­cials seek­ing to demand trans­paren­cy from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment say they were explic­it­ly told by col­leagues not to explore the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virology’s gain-of-func­tion research, because it would bring unwel­come atten­tion to U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of it. . . . . In an inter­nal memo obtained by Van­i­ty Fair, Thomas DiNan­no, for­mer act­ing assis­tant sec­re­tary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and Com­pli­ance, wrote that. . .  staff from two bureaus . . . “warned” lead­ers with­in his bureau ‘not to pur­sue an inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gin of COVID-19’ because it would ‘open a can of worms’ if it con­tin­ued.’ . . . . As the group probed the lab-leak sce­nario, among oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties, its mem­bers were repeat­ed­ly advised not to open a ‘Pandora’s box,’ said four for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cials inter­viewed by Van­i­ty Fair. . . .”
  2. Set­ting the ortho­doxy in ear­ly 2020 with a Lancet arti­cle rul­ing out a lab­o­ra­to­ry ori­gin for the virus was Peter Daszak, with approval from Ralph Bar­ic: ” . . . . It soon emerged, based on emails obtained by a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion group called U.S. Right to Know, that Daszak had not only signed but orga­nized the influ­en­tial Lancet state­ment, with the inten­tion of con­ceal­ing his role and cre­at­ing the impres­sion of sci­en­tif­ic una­nim­i­ty. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In late March, for­mer Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol direc­tor Robert Red­field received death threats from fel­low sci­en­tists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had orig­i­nat­ed in a lab. . . . ”
  4. Matthew Pot­tinger, a Chi­na hawk in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, head­ed up a team to inves­ti­gate the Wuhan lab leak hypoth­e­sis. Note that the gain-of-func­tion milieu in the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment was a retard­ing fac­tor in the inquiry: ” . . . . By then, Matthew Pot­tinger had approved a COVID-19 ori­gins team, run by the NSC direc­torate that over­saw issues relat­ed to weapons of mass destruc­tion. A long­time Asia expert and for­mer jour­nal­ist, Pot­tinger pur­pose­ful­ly kept the team small . . . . In addi­tion, many lead­ing experts had either received or approved fund­ing for gain-of-func­tion research. Their ‘con­flict­ed’ sta­tus, said Pot­tinger, ‘played a pro­found role in mud­dy­ing the waters and con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the shot at hav­ing an impar­tial inquiry.’  . . . .” 
  5. Note that Lawrence Liv­er­more sci­en­tists were involved with the gen­e­sis of the “Chi­na did it” hypoth­e­sis, after alleged­ly being alert­ed by a for­eign source to look into their own files. ” . . . . An intel­li­gence ana­lyst work­ing with David Ash­er sift­ed through clas­si­fied chan­nels and turned up a report that out­lined why the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis was plau­si­ble. It had been writ­ten in May by researchers at the Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, which per­forms nation­al secu­ri­ty research for the Depart­ment of Ener­gy. But it appeared to have been buried with­in the clas­si­fied col­lec­tions sys­tem. . . .”
  6. Note, also, that Chris Ford, a Chi­na hawk, was work­ing to sup­press the Wuhan lab leak hypoth­e­sis: ” . . . . Their frus­tra­tion crest­ed in Decem­ber, when they final­ly briefed Chris Ford, act­ing under­sec­re­tary for Arms Con­trol and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty. He seemed so hos­tile to their probe that they viewed him as a blink­ered func­tionary bent on white­wash­ing China’s malfea­sance. But Ford, who had years of expe­ri­ence in nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, had long been a Chi­na hawk. . . .”
  7. The “Chi­na did it/Wuhan lab leak” hypoth­e­sis sur­vived from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and Mike Pom­peo’s State Depart­ment to the Biden admin­is­tra­tion: ” . . . . The state­ment with­stood ‘aggres­sive sus­pi­cion,’ as one for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial said, and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has not walked it back. ‘I was very pleased to see Pompeo’s state­ment come through,’ said Chris Ford, who per­son­al­ly signed off on a draft of the fact sheet before leav­ing the State Depart­ment. ‘I was so relieved that they were using real report­ing that had been vet­ted and cleared.’ . . . .”
  8. Avril Haines, whom we have cit­ed in this series as a key par­tic­i­pant in the Deep State shep­herd­ing of the “Lab-Leak Hypoth­e­sis,” looms large in the inquiry into the per­pet­u­a­tion of this pro­pa­gan­da meme: ” . . . . Inside the U.S. gov­ern­ment, mean­while, the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis had sur­vived the tran­si­tion from Trump to Biden. On April 15, Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines told the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee that two ‘plau­si­ble the­o­ries’ were being weighed: a lab acci­dent or nat­ur­al emer­gence. . . .”
  9. The arti­cle con­cludes with the inter­est­ing use of the term “cut-out” to describe the Eco­Health Alliance. The term gen­er­al­ly refers to an intel­li­gence-com­mu­ni­ty front orga­ni­za­tion. Is the author hint­ing at more? Did her edi­tor take infor­ma­tion out? ” . . . . The Unit­ed States deserves a healthy share of blame as well. Thanks to their unprece­dent­ed track record of men­dac­i­ty and race-bait­ing, Trump and his allies had less than zero cred­i­bil­i­ty. And the prac­tice of fund­ing risky research via cutouts like Eco­Health Alliance enmeshed lead­ing virol­o­gists in con­flicts of inter­est at the exact moment their exper­tise was most des­per­ate­ly need­ed. . . .”

We con­clude with two impor­tant points from an arti­cle used ear­li­er in the pro­gram.

  1. Shi Zhengli has not­ed that open­ing up the WIV’s records is unac­cept­able: ” . . . . That demand is ‘def­i­nite­ly not accept­able,’ respond­ed Shi Zhengli, who directs the Cen­ter for Emerg­ing Infec­tious Dis­eases at the Wuhan Insti­tute. ‘Who can pro­vide evi­dence that does not exist?’ she told MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review. Shi has said that thou­sands of attempts to hack its com­put­er sys­tems forced the insti­tute to close its data­base. . . .”
  2. The U.S. would not be accept­able to such a propo­si­tion, if the Chi­nese demand­ed access to Ft. Det­rick (part of which was shut down by the CDC in ear­ly August of 2019 on the eve of the pan­dem­ic). A com­menter also not­ed the Rocky Moun­tain lab in his analy­sis, which we not­ed was one of the areas where Willy Burgdor­fer appears to have worked on the devel­op­ment of Lyme Dis­ease.) ” . . . . If a dis­ease had emerged from the U.S. and the Chi­nese blamed the Pen­ta­gon and demand­ed access to the data, ‘what would we say?’ [Dr. Ger­ald] Keusch asked. ‘Would we throw out the red car­pet, ‘Come on over to Fort Det­rick and the Rocky Moun­tain Lab?’ We’d have done exact­ly what the Chi­nese did, which is say, ‘Screw you!’’ . . . .”

1a. Under­scor­ing a point of analy­sis from pre­vi­ous broad­casts, we note that, of para­mount impor­tance in this con­text, is the fact that ANY virus can be made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry, from scratch as is being done for the SARS-CoV­‑2 (Covid-19) virus.

Ralph Baric–who did the gain-of-func­tion mod­i­fi­ca­tion on the Horse­shoe Bat coro­n­avirus, has been select­ed to engi­neer the Covid-19.

Note what might be termed a “viro­log­ic Juras­sic Park” man­i­fes­ta­tion: ” . . . . The tech­nol­o­gy imme­di­ate­ly cre­at­ed bio-weapon wor­ries. . . . Researchers at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) drove that point home in 2005 when they res­ur­rect­ed the influen­za virus that killed tens of mil­lions in 1918–1919. . . .

“Biol­o­gists rush to re-cre­ate the Chi­na coro­n­avirus from its DNA code” by Anto­nio Regal­a­do; MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review; 02/15/2020

The world is watch­ing with alarm as Chi­na strug­gles to con­tain a dan­ger­ous new virus, now being called SARS-CoV­‑2. It has quar­an­tined entire cities, and the US has put a blan­ket ban on trav­ellers who’ve been there. Health offi­cials are scram­bling to under­stand how the virus is trans­mit­ted and how to treat patients.

But in one Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na lab, there’s a dif­fer­ent race. Researchers are try­ing to cre­ate a copy of the virus. From scratch.

Led by Ralph Bar­ic, an expert in coronaviruses—which get their name from the crown-shaped spike they use to enter human cells—the North Car­oli­na team expects to recre­ate the virus start­ing only from com­put­er read­outs of its genet­ic sequence post­ed online by Chi­nese labs last month.

The remark­able abil­i­ty to “boot up” virus­es from genet­ic instruc­tions is made pos­si­ble by com­pa­nies that man­u­fac­ture cus­tom DNA mol­e­cules, such as Inte­grat­ed DNA Tech­nol­o­gy, Twist Bio­science, and Atum. By order­ing the right genes, which cost a few thou­sand dol­lars, and then stitch­ing them togeth­er to cre­ate a copy of the coro­n­avirus genome, it’s pos­si­ble to inject the genet­ic mate­r­i­al into cells and jump-start the virus to life.

The abil­i­ty to make a lethal virus from mail-order DNA was first demon­strat­ed 20 years ago. It’s enough of a bioter­ror­ism con­cern that com­pa­nies care­ful­ly mon­i­tor who is order­ing which genes. . . . The tech­nol­o­gy imme­di­ate­ly cre­at­ed bio-weapon wor­ries. . . . Researchers at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) drove that point home in 2005 when they res­ur­rect­ed the influen­za virus that killed tens of mil­lions in 1918–1919. . . .

1b. Cen­tral to the inquiry about a lab­o­ra­to­ry gen­e­sis for the virus is Ralph Bar­ic. We note that:

  1. Bar­ic’s mod­i­fi­ca­tion of a horse­shoe bat virus to make it more infec­tious (in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Shi Zhengli and in an Eco­Health Alliance affil­i­at­ed project) took place in North Car­oli­na, not Wuhan. “. . . . Crit­ics have jumped on this paper as evi­dence that Shi was con­duct­ing “gain of func­tion” exper­i­ments that could have cre­at­ed a super­bug, but Shi denies it. The research cit­ed in the paper was con­duct­ed in North Car­oli­na. . . .”
  2. Bar­ic has been using relat­ed tech­niques to text remde­sivir (in 2017) and the Mod­er­na vac­cine. This places him in a milieu inex­tri­ca­bly linked to the mil­i­tary and pre-dat­ing the pan­dem­ic. ” . . . . Using a sim­i­lar tech­nique, in 2017, Baric’s lab showed that remde­sivir — cur­rent­ly the only licensed drug for treat­ing covid — could be use­ful in fight­ing coro­n­avirus infec­tions. Bar­ic also helped test the Mod­er­na covid vac­cine and a lead­ing new drug can­di­date against covid. . . .”

“To the Bat Cave: In Search of Covid’s Ori­gins, Sci­en­tists Reignite Polar­iz­ing Debate on Wuhan ‘Lab        Leak’” by Arthur Allen; KHN; 05/19/2021

. . . . Crit­ics have jumped on this paper as evi­dence that Shi was con­duct­ing “gain of func­tion” exper­i­ments that could have cre­at­ed a super­bug, but Shi denies it. The research cit­ed in the paper was con­duct­ed in North Car­oli­na.

Using a sim­i­lar tech­nique, in 2017, Baric’s lab showed that remde­sivir — cur­rent­ly the only licensed drug for treat­ing covid — could be use­ful in fight­ing coro­n­avirus infec­tions. Bar­ic also helped test the Mod­er­na covid vac­cine and a lead­ing new drug can­di­date against covid.

Research into covid-like virus­es is vital, Bar­ic said. “A ter­ri­ble truth,” he said, “is that mil­lions of coro­n­avirus­es exist in ani­mal reser­voirs, like bats, and unfor­tu­nate­ly many appear poised for rapid trans­mis­sion between species.”

Bar­ic told KHN he does not believe covid result­ed from gain-of-func­tion research. But he signed the Sci­ence let­ter call­ing for a more thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion of his Chi­nese col­leagues’ lab­o­ra­to­ry, he said in an email, because while he “per­son­al­ly believe[s] in the nat­ur­al ori­gin hypoth­e­sis,” WHO should arrange for a rig­or­ous, open inves­ti­ga­tion. . . .

. . . . The more than $50 mil­lion Eco­Health Alliance had received in U.S. fund­ing since 2007 includes con­tracts and grants from two NIH insti­tutes, the Nation­al Sci­ence Foun­da­tion and the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment, as well as Pen­ta­gon funds to look for organ­isms that could be fash­ioned into bioter­ror weapons. . . .

. . . . Scal­ing the Wall of Secre­cy

U.S.-China ten­sions will make it very dif­fi­cult to con­clude any such study, sci­en­tists on both sides of the issue sug­gest. With their anti-Chi­na rhetoric, Trump and his aides “could not have made it more dif­fi­cult to get coop­er­a­tion,” said Dr. Ger­ald Keusch, asso­ciate direc­tor of the Nation­al Emerg­ing Infec­tious Dis­eases Lab­o­ra­to­ry Insti­tute at Boston Uni­ver­si­ty. If a dis­ease had emerged from the U.S. and the Chi­nese blamed the Pen­ta­gon and demand­ed access to the data, “what would we say?” Keusch asked. “Would we throw out the red car­pet, ‘Come on over to Fort Det­rick and the Rocky Moun­tain Lab?’ We’d have done exact­ly what the Chi­nese did, which is say, ‘Screw you!’”

3. Next, we present analy­sis of a very impor­tant, albeit slant­ed Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle:

  1. Pom­peo State Depart­ment offi­cials pur­su­ing the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis were told to cov­er it up lest it shed light on U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of research at the “Oswald Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy!”: ” . . . . In one State Depart­ment meet­ing, offi­cials seek­ing to demand trans­paren­cy from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment say they were explic­it­ly told by col­leagues not to explore the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virology’s gain-of-func­tion research, because it would bring unwel­come atten­tion to U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of it. . . . . In an inter­nal memo obtained by Van­i­ty Fair, Thomas DiNan­no, for­mer act­ing assis­tant sec­re­tary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and Com­pli­ance, wrote that. . .  staff from two bureaus . . . “warned” lead­ers with­in his bureau ‘not to pur­sue an inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gin of COVID-19’ because it would ‘open a can of worms’ if it con­tin­ued.’ . . . . As the group probed the lab-leak sce­nario, among oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties, its mem­bers were repeat­ed­ly advised not to open a ‘Pandora’s box,’ said four for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cials inter­viewed by Van­i­ty Fair. . . .”
  2. Set­ting the ortho­doxy in ear­ly 2020 with a Lancet arti­cle rul­ing out a lab­o­ra­to­ry ori­gin for the virus was Peter Daszak, with approval from Ralph Bar­ic: ” . . . . It soon emerged, based on emails obtained by a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion group called U.S. Right to Know, that Daszak had not only signed but orga­nized the influ­en­tial Lancet state­ment, with the inten­tion of con­ceal­ing his role and cre­at­ing the impres­sion of sci­en­tif­ic una­nim­i­ty. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In late March, for­mer Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol direc­tor Robert Red­field received death threats from fel­low sci­en­tists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had orig­i­nat­ed in a lab. . . . ”
  4. Matthew Pot­tinger, a Chi­na hawk in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, head­ed up a team to inves­ti­gate the Wuhan lab leak hypoth­e­sis. Note that the gain-of-func­tion milieu in the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment was a retard­ing fac­tor in the inquiry: ” . . . . By then, Matthew Pot­tinger had approved a COVID-19 ori­gins team, run by the NSC direc­torate that over­saw issues relat­ed to weapons of mass destruc­tion. A long­time Asia expert and for­mer jour­nal­ist, Pot­tinger pur­pose­ful­ly kept the team small . . . . In addi­tion, many lead­ing experts had either received or approved fund­ing for gain-of-func­tion research. Their ‘con­flict­ed’ sta­tus, said Pot­tinger, ‘played a pro­found role in mud­dy­ing the waters and con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the shot at hav­ing an impar­tial inquiry.’  . . . .” 
  5. Note that Lawrence Liv­er­more sci­en­tists were involved with the gen­e­sis of the “Chi­na did it” hypoth­e­sis, after alleged­ly being alert­ed by a for­eign source to look into their own files. ” . . . . An intel­li­gence ana­lyst work­ing with David Ash­er sift­ed through clas­si­fied chan­nels and turned up a report that out­lined why the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis was plau­si­ble. It had been writ­ten in May by researchers at the Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, which per­forms nation­al secu­ri­ty research for the Depart­ment of Ener­gy. But it appeared to have been buried with­in the clas­si­fied col­lec­tions sys­tem. . . .”
  6. Note, also, that Chris Ford, a Chi­na hawk, was work­ing to sup­press the Wuhan lab leak hypoth­e­sis: ” . . . . Their frus­tra­tion crest­ed in Decem­ber, when they final­ly briefed Chris Ford, act­ing under­sec­re­tary for Arms Con­trol and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty. He seemed so hos­tile to their probe that they viewed him as a blink­ered func­tionary bent on white­wash­ing China’s malfea­sance. But Ford, who had years of expe­ri­ence in nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, had long been a Chi­na hawk. . . .”
  7. The “Chi­na did it/Wuhan lab leak” hypoth­e­sis sur­vived from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and Mike Pom­peo’s State Depart­ment to the Biden admin­is­tra­tion: ” . . . .. . . . The state­ment with­stood ‘aggres­sive sus­pi­cion,’ as one for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial said, and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has not walked it back. ‘I was very pleased to see Pompeo’s state­ment come through,’ said Chris Ford, who per­son­al­ly signed off on a draft of the fact sheet before leav­ing the State Depart­ment. ‘I was so relieved that they were using real report­ing that had been vet­ted and cleared.’ . . . .”
  8. Avril Haines, whom we have cit­ed in this series as a key par­tic­i­pant in the Deep State shep­herd­ing of the “Lab-Leak Hypoth­e­sis,” looms large in the inquiry into the per­pet­u­a­tion of this pro­pa­gan­da meme: ” . . . . Inside the U.S. gov­ern­ment, mean­while, the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis had sur­vived the tran­si­tion from Trump to Biden. On April 15, Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines told the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee that two ‘plau­si­ble the­o­ries’ were being weighed: a lab acci­dent or nat­ur­al emer­gence. . . .”
  9. The arti­cle con­cludes with the inter­est­ing use of the term “cut-out” to describe the Eco­Health Alliance. The term gen­er­al­ly refers to an intel­li­gence-com­mu­ni­ty front orga­ni­za­tion. Is the author hint­ing at more? Did her edi­tor take infor­ma­tion out? ” . . . . The Unit­ed States deserves a healthy share of blame as well. Thanks to their unprece­dent­ed track record of men­dac­i­ty and race-bait­ing, Trump and his allies had less than zero cred­i­bil­i­ty. And the prac­tice of fund­ing risky research via cutouts like Eco­Health Alliance enmeshed lead­ing virol­o­gists in con­flicts of inter­est at the exact moment their exper­tise was most des­per­ate­ly need­ed. . . .”

“The Lab-Leak The­o­ry: Inside the Fight to Uncov­er Covid-19’s Ori­gins” by Kather­ine Eban; Van­i­ty Fair; 6/3/2021.

. . . . At times, it seemed the only oth­er peo­ple enter­tain­ing the lab-leak the­o­ry were crack­pots or polit­i­cal hacks hop­ing to wield COVID-19 as a cud­gel against Chi­na. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer polit­i­cal advis­er Steve Ban­non, for instance, joined forces with an exiled Chi­nese bil­lion­aire named Guo Wen­gui to fuel claims that Chi­na had devel­oped the dis­ease as a bioweapon and pur­pose­ful­ly unleashed it on the world. As proof, they parad­ed a Hong Kong sci­en­tist around right-wing media out­lets until her man­i­fest lack of exper­tise doomed the cha­rade. . . .

. . . . On Feb­ru­ary 19, 2020, The Lancet, among the most respect­ed and influ­en­tial med­ical jour­nals in the world, pub­lished a state­ment that round­ly reject­ed the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis, effec­tive­ly cast­ing it as a xeno­pho­bic cousin to cli­mate change denial­ism and anti-vaxxism. Signed by 27 sci­en­tists, the state­ment expressed “sol­i­dar­i­ty with all sci­en­tists and health pro­fes­sion­als in Chi­na” and assert­ed: “We stand togeth­er to strong­ly con­demn con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sug­gest­ing that COVID-19 does not have a nat­ur­al ori­gin.”

The Lancet state­ment effec­tive­ly end­ed the debate over COVID-19’s ori­gins before it began. To Gilles Dema­neuf, fol­low­ing along from the side­lines, it was as if it had been “nailed to the church doors,” estab­lish­ing the nat­ur­al ori­gin the­o­ry as ortho­doxy. “Every­one had to fol­low it. Every­one was intim­i­dat­ed. That set the tone.” . . . . 

. . . . It soon emerged, based on emails obtained by a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion group called U.S. Right to Know, that Daszak had not only signed but orga­nized the influ­en­tial Lancet state­ment, with the inten­tion of con­ceal­ing his role and cre­at­ing the impres­sion of sci­en­tif­ic una­nim­i­ty.

Under the sub­ject line, “No need for you to sign the “State­ment” Ralph!!,” he wrote to two sci­en­tists, includ­ing UNC’s Dr. Ralph Bar­ic, who had col­lab­o­rat­ed with Shi Zhengli on the gain-of-func­tion study that cre­at­ed a coro­n­avirus capa­ble of infect­ing human cells: “you, me and him should not sign this state­ment, so it has some dis­tance from us and there­fore doesn’t work in a coun­ter­pro­duc­tive way.” Daszak added, “We’ll then put it out in a way that doesn’t link it back to our col­lab­o­ra­tion so we max­i­mize an inde­pen­dent voice.”

Bar­ic agreed, writ­ing back, “Oth­er­wise it looks self-serv­ing and we lose impact.” . . . .

. . . . A months long Van­i­ty Fair inves­ti­ga­tion, inter­views with more than 40 peo­ple, and a review of hun­dreds of pages of U.S. gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments, includ­ing inter­nal mem­os, meet­ing min­utes, and email cor­re­spon­dence, found that con­flicts of inter­est, stem­ming in part from large gov­ern­ment grants sup­port­ing con­tro­ver­sial virol­o­gy research, ham­pered the U.S. inves­ti­ga­tion into COVID-19’s ori­gin at every step.In one State Depart­ment meet­ing, offi­cials seek­ing to demand trans­paren­cy from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment say they were explic­it­ly told by col­leagues not to explore the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virology’s gain-of-func­tion research, because it would bring unwel­come atten­tion to U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of it.

In an inter­nal memo obtained by Van­i­ty Fair, Thomas DiNan­no, for­mer act­ing assis­tant sec­re­tary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and Com­pli­ance, wrote that staff from two bureaus, his own and the Bureau of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty and Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, “warned” lead­ers with­in his bureau “not to pur­sue an inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gin of COVID-19” because it would “‘open a can of worms’ if it con­tin­ued.” . . . . 

. . . . But for most of the past year, the lab-leak sce­nario was treat­ed not sim­ply as unlike­ly or even inac­cu­rate but as moral­ly out-of-bounds. In late March, for­mer Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol direc­tor Robert Red­field received death threats from fel­low sci­en­tists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had orig­i­nat­ed in a lab. . . . 

. . . . In the words of David Fei­th, for­mer deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of state in the East Asia bureau, “The sto­ry of why parts of the U.S. gov­ern­ment were not as curi­ous as many of us think they should have been is a huge­ly impor­tant one.” . . . .

. . . . By then, Matthew Pot­tinger had approved a COVID-19 ori­gins team, run by the NSC direc­torate that over­saw issues relat­ed to weapons of mass destruc­tion. A long­time Asia expert and for­mer jour­nal­ist, Pot­tinger pur­pose­ful­ly kept the team small, because there were so many peo­ple with­in the gov­ern­ment “whol­ly dis­count­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab leak, who were pre­dis­posed that it was impos­si­ble,” said Pot­tinger. In addi­tion, many lead­ing experts had either received or approved fund­ing for gain-of-func­tion research. Their “con­flict­ed” sta­tus, said Pot­tinger, “played a pro­found role in mud­dy­ing the waters and con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the shot at hav­ing an impar­tial inquiry.”  . . . . 

. . . . Believ­ing they had uncov­ered impor­tant evi­dence in favor of the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis, the NSC inves­ti­ga­tors began reach­ing out to oth­er agen­cies. That’s when the ham­mer came down. “We were dis­missed,” said Antho­ny Rug­giero, the NSC’s senior direc­tor for coun­ter­pro­lif­er­a­tion and biode­fense. “The response was very neg­a­tive.” . . . .

. . . . By the sum­mer of 2020, Gilles Dema­neuf was spend­ing up to four hours a day research­ing the ori­gins of COVID-19, join­ing Zoom meet­ings before dawn with Euro­pean col­lab­o­ra­tors and not sleep­ing much. He began to receive anony­mous calls and notice strange activ­i­ty on his com­put­er, which he attrib­uted to Chi­nese gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. “We are being mon­i­tored for sure,” he says. He moved his work to the encrypt­ed plat­forms Sig­nal and Pro­ton­Mail. . . .

. . . . As offi­cials at the meet­ing dis­cussed what they could share with the pub­lic, they were advised by Christo­pher Park, the direc­tor of the State Department’s Bio­log­i­cal Pol­i­cy Staff in the Bureau of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty and Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, not to say any­thing that would point to the U.S. government’s own role in gain-of-func­tion research, accord­ing to doc­u­men­ta­tion of the meet­ing obtained by Van­i­ty Fair.

Only two oth­er labs in the world, in Galve­ston, Texas and Chapel Hill, North Car­oli­na, were doing sim­i­lar research. “It’s not a dozen cities,” Dr. Richard Ebright said. “It’s three places.” 

Some of the atten­dees were “absolute­ly floored,” said an offi­cial famil­iar with the pro­ceed­ings. That some­one in the U.S. gov­ern­ment could “make an argu­ment that is so naked­ly against trans­paren­cy, in light of the unfold­ing cat­a­stro­phe, was…shocking and dis­turb­ing.”

Park, who in 2017 had been involved in lift­ing a U.S. gov­ern­ment mora­to­ri­um on fund­ing for gain-of-func­tion research, was not the only offi­cial to warn the State Depart­ment inves­ti­ga­tors against dig­ging in sen­si­tive places. As the group probed the lab-leak sce­nario, among oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties, its mem­bers were repeat­ed­ly advised not to open a “Pandora’s box,” said four for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cials inter­viewed by Van­i­ty Fair. The admo­ni­tions “smelled like a cov­er-up,” said Thomas DiNan­no, “and I wasn’t going to be part of it.” . . . . 

. . . . In the first year of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, the mora­to­ri­um was lift­ed and replaced with a review sys­tem called the HHS P3CO Frame­work (for Poten­tial Pan­dem­ic Pathogen Care and Over­sight). It put the onus for ensur­ing the safe­ty of any such research on the fed­er­al depart­ment or agency fund­ing it. This left the review process shroud­ed in secre­cy. “The names of review­ers are not released, and the details of the exper­i­ments to be con­sid­ered are large­ly secret,” said the Har­vard epi­demi­ol­o­gist Dr. Marc Lip­sitch, whose advo­ca­cy against gain-of-func­tion research helped prompt the mora­to­ri­um. (An NIH spokesper­son told Van­i­ty Fair that “infor­ma­tion about indi­vid­ual unfund­ed appli­ca­tions is not pub­lic to pre­serve con­fi­den­tial­i­ty and pro­tect sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, pre­lim­i­nary data, and intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty.”)

Inside the NIH, which fund­ed such research, the P3CO frame­work was large­ly met with shrugs and eye rolls, said a long­time agency offi­cial: “If you ban gain-of-func­tion research, you ban all of virol­o­gy.” He added, “Ever since the mora­to­ri­um, everyone’s gone wink-wink and just done gain-of-func­tion research any­way.” . . . .

. . . . By the sum­mer of 2020, the State Department’s COVID-19 ori­gins inves­ti­ga­tion had gone cold. Offi­cials in the Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and Com­pli­ance went back to their nor­mal work: sur­veilling the world for bio­log­i­cal threats. “We weren’t look­ing for Wuhan,” said Thomas DiNan­no. That fall, the State Depart­ment team got a tip from a for­eign source: Key infor­ma­tion was like­ly sit­ting in the U.S. intel­li­gence community’s own files, unan­a­lyzed. In Novem­ber, that lead turned up clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion that was “absolute­ly arrest­ing and shock­ing,” said a for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial. Three researchers at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy, all con­nect­ed with gain-of-func­tion research on coro­n­avirus­es, had fall­en ill in Novem­ber 2019 and appeared to have vis­it­ed the hos­pi­tal with symp­toms sim­i­lar to COVID-19, three gov­ern­ment offi­cials told Van­i­ty Fair.

While it is not clear what had sick­ened them, “these were not the jan­i­tors,” said the for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial. “They were active researchers. The dates were among the absolute most arrest­ing part of the pic­ture, because they are smack where they would be if this was the ori­gin.” The reac­tion inside the State Depart­ment was, “Holy shit,” one for­mer senior offi­cial recalled. “We should prob­a­bly tell our boss­es.” The inves­ti­ga­tion roared back to life.

An intel­li­gence ana­lyst work­ing with David Ash­er sift­ed through clas­si­fied chan­nels and turned up a report that out­lined why the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis was plau­si­ble. It had been writ­ten in May by researchers at the Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, which per­forms nation­al secu­ri­ty research for the Depart­ment of Ener­gy. But it appeared to have been buried with­in the clas­si­fied col­lec­tions sys­tem.

Now the offi­cials were begin­ning to sus­pect that some­one was actu­al­ly hid­ing mate­ri­als sup­port­ive of a lab-leak expla­na­tion. “Why did my con­trac­tor have to pore through doc­u­ments?” DiNan­no won­dered. Their sus­pi­cion inten­si­fied when Depart­ment of Ener­gy offi­cials over­see­ing the Lawrence Liv­er­more lab unsuc­cess­ful­ly tried to block the State Depart­ment inves­ti­ga­tors from talk­ing to the report’s authors.

Their frus­tra­tion crest­ed in Decem­ber, when they final­ly briefed Chris Ford, act­ing under­sec­re­tary for Arms Con­trol and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty. He seemed so hos­tile to their probe that they viewed him as a blink­ered func­tionary bent on white­wash­ing China’s malfea­sance. But Ford, who had years of expe­ri­ence in nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, had long been a Chi­na hawk. Ford told Van­i­ty Fair that he saw his job as pro­tect­ing the integri­ty of any inquiry into COVID-19’s ori­gins that fell under his purview. Going with “stuff that makes us look like the crack­pot brigade” would back­fire, he believed.

There was anoth­er rea­son for his hos­til­i­ty. He’d already heard about the inves­ti­ga­tion from inter­a­gency col­leagues, rather than from the team itself, and the secre­cy left him with a “spidey sense” that the process was a form of “creepy free­lanc­ing.” He won­dered: Had some­one launched an unac­count­able inves­ti­ga­tion with the goal of achiev­ing a desired result?

He was not the only one with con­cerns. As one senior gov­ern­ment offi­cial with knowl­edge of the State Department’s inves­ti­ga­tion said, “They were writ­ing this for cer­tain cus­tomers in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. We asked for the report­ing behind the state­ments that were made. It took for­ev­er. Then you’d read the report, it would have this ref­er­ence to a tweet and a date. It was not some­thing you could go back and find.”

After lis­ten­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tors’ find­ings, a tech­ni­cal expert in one of the State Department’s bioweapons offices “thought they were bonkers,” Ford recalled.

The State Depart­ment team, for its part, believed that Ford was the one try­ing to impose a pre­con­ceived con­clu­sion: that COVID-19 had a nat­ur­al ori­gin. A week lat­er, one of them attend­ed the meet­ing where Christo­pher Park, who worked under Ford, advised those present not to draw atten­tion to U.S. fund­ing of gain-of-func­tion research. . . .

. . . . The state­ment with­stood “aggres­sive sus­pi­cion,” as one for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial said, and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has not walked it back. “I was very pleased to see Pompeo’s state­ment come through,” said Chris Ford, who per­son­al­ly signed off on a draft of the fact sheet before leav­ing the State Depart­ment. “I was so relieved that they were using real report­ing that had been vet­ted and cleared.” . . . .

Inside the U.S. gov­ern­ment, mean­while, the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis had sur­vived the tran­si­tion from Trump to Biden. On April 15, Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines told the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee that two “plau­si­ble the­o­ries” were being weighed: a lab acci­dent or nat­ur­al emer­gence. . . .

. . . . Chi­na obvi­ous­ly bears respon­si­bil­i­ty for stonewalling inves­ti­ga­tors. Whether it did so out of sheer author­i­tar­i­an habit or because it had a lab leak to hide is, and may always be, unknown.

The Unit­ed States deserves a healthy share of blame as well. Thanks to their unprece­dent­ed track record of men­dac­i­ty and race-bait­ing, Trump and his allies had less than zero cred­i­bil­i­ty. And the prac­tice of fund­ing risky research via cutouts like Eco­Health Alliance enmeshed lead­ing virol­o­gists in con­flicts of inter­est at the exact moment their exper­tise was most des­per­ate­ly need­ed.

4. We con­clude with two impor­tant points from an arti­cle used ear­li­er in the pro­gram.

  1. Shi Zhengli has not­ed that open­ing up the WIV’s records is unac­cept­able: ” . . . . That demand is ‘def­i­nite­ly not accept­able,’ respond­ed Shi Zhengli, who directs the Cen­ter for Emerg­ing Infec­tious Dis­eases at the Wuhan Insti­tute. ‘Who can pro­vide evi­dence that does not exist?’ she told MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review. Shi has said that thou­sands of attempts to hack its com­put­er sys­tems forced the insti­tute to close its data­base. . . .”
  2. The U.S. would not be accept­able to such a propo­si­tion, if the Chi­nese demand­ed access to Ft. Det­rick (part of which was shut down by the CDC in ear­ly August of 2019 on the eve of the pan­dem­ic). A com­menter also not­ed the Rocky Moun­tain lab in his analy­sis, which we not­ed was one of the areas where Willy Burgdor­fer appears to have worked on the devel­op­ment of Lyme Dis­ease. ” . . . . If a dis­ease had emerged from the U.S. and the Chi­nese blamed the Pen­ta­gon and demand­ed access to the data, ‘what would we say?’ [Dr. Ger­ald] Keusch asked. ‘Would we throw out the red car­pet, ‘Come on over to Fort Det­rick and the Rocky Moun­tain Lab?’ We’d have done exact­ly what the Chi­nese did, which is say, ‘Screw you!’’ . . . .”

“To the Bat Cave: In Search of Covid’s Ori­gins, Sci­en­tists Reignite Polar­iz­ing Debate on Wuhan ‘Lab        Leak’” by Arthur Allen; KHN; 05/19/2021

. . . . The more than $50 mil­lion Eco­Health Alliance had received in U.S. fund­ing since 2007 includes con­tracts and grants from two NIH insti­tutes, the Nation­al Sci­ence Foun­da­tion and the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment, as well as Pen­ta­gon funds to look for organ­isms that could be fash­ioned into bioter­ror weapons. . . .

On Fri­day, 18 virus and immunol­o­gy experts pub­lished a let­ter in the jour­nal Sci­ence demand­ing a deep­er dive. “The­o­ries of acci­den­tal release from a lab and zoonot­ic spillover both remain viable,” they said, adding that the Wuhan Insti­tute should open its records. One of the sig­na­to­ries was a North Car­oli­na virol­o­gist who has worked direct­ly with the Wuhan Institute’s top sci­en­tists.

. . . . That demand is “def­i­nite­ly not accept­able,” respond­ed Shi Zhengli, who directs the Cen­ter for Emerg­ing Infec­tious Dis­eases at the Wuhan Insti­tute. “Who can pro­vide evi­dence that does not exist?” she told MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review. Shi has said that thou­sands of attempts to hack its com­put­er sys­tems forced the insti­tute to close its data­base. . . .

. . . . Scal­ing the Wall of Secre­cy

U.S.-China ten­sions will make it very dif­fi­cult to con­clude any such study, sci­en­tists on both sides of the issue sug­gest. With their anti-Chi­na rhetoric, Trump and his aides “could not have made it more dif­fi­cult to get coop­er­a­tion,” said Dr. Ger­ald Keusch, asso­ciate direc­tor of the Nation­al Emerg­ing Infec­tious Dis­eases Lab­o­ra­to­ry Insti­tute at Boston Uni­ver­si­ty. If a dis­ease had emerged from the U.S. and the Chi­nese blamed the Pen­ta­gon and demand­ed access to the data, “what would we say?” Keusch asked. “Would we throw out the red car­pet, ‘Come on over to Fort Det­rick and the Rocky Moun­tain Lab?’ We’d have done exact­ly what the Chi­nese did, which is say, ‘Screw you!’”

Discussion

3 comments for “FTR#1189 The Oswald Institute of Virology, Part 8: Covid-19 and The American Deep State, Part 2 (The Cover-Up Obviates the Conspiracy)”

  1. As usu­al, bril­liant research, com­men­tary and analy­sis — Dave Emory is a nation­al trea­sure

    Posted by ALAN Kernoff | June 19, 2021, 10:57 am
  2. Thanks so much for the kind words!

    Posted by Dave Emory | June 19, 2021, 6:00 pm
  3. Here’s a sto­ry with intrigu­ing impli­ca­tions: Peter Daszak just recused him­self from the Lancet’s inquiry into the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. While there’s no short­age of rea­sons for why Daszak should have recused him­self and nev­er been on the com­mis­sion in the first place, no rea­son for the recusal was giv­en. The com­mis­sion web­site sim­ply states that Daszak has recused him­self.

    So was this move a gen­uine attempt at avoid a con­flict of inter­est? Or was this mere­ly intend­ed to avoid the appear­ance of a con­flict of inter­est? Well, as we’re also going to see, the Lancet has also updat­ed the con­flict-of-inter­est state­ments that were pub­lished in the Feb 2020 let­ter pub­lished in the Lancet by Daszak and numer­ous oth­er top virol­o­gist dis­miss­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab leak. So it isn’t just Daszak doing the retroac­tive recus­ing here:

    The Tele­graph

    UK sci­en­tist at cen­tre of debate over ori­gin of Covid pan­dem­ic ‘recus­es him­self’ from inquiry

    Dr Peter Daszak has left inves­ti­ga­tion into coro­n­avirus emer­gence after con­cerns raised over links with Chi­nese lab­o­ra­to­ry

    By Anne Gul­land, Glob­al Health Secu­ri­ty Deputy Edi­tor
    22 June 2021 • 12:55pm

    A British-born sci­en­tist who was part of the World Health Organ­i­sa­tion team inves­ti­gat­ing the ori­gins of the pan­dem­ic has been recused from an inquiry led by a lead­ing med­ical jour­nal into how Covid emerged.

    Dr Peter Daszak, pres­i­dent of the US-based Eco­Health Alliance, has “recused him­self” from the Lancet com­mis­sion into the ori­gins of the pan­dem­ic after con­cerns were raised over his links with the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy — the organ­i­sa­tion con­duct­ing research into bat virus­es in the city where the pan­dem­ic first emerged.

    On the commission’s web­site it states that Dr Daszak has “recused him­self from Com­mis­sion work on the ori­gins of the pan­dem­icbut gives no fur­ther infor­ma­tion.

    The debate into how the virus has emerged has grown increas­ing­ly fraught, with some say­ing the “lab leak the­o­ry” was dis­missed by the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty too ear­ly on. Last month US pres­i­dent Joe Biden ordered US intel­li­gence agen­cies to “redou­ble” efforts to inves­ti­gate the pan­demic’s ori­gins, includ­ing the the­o­ry it came from the lab.

    In Feb­ru­ary 2020 Dr Daszak, who has strong­ly con­demned any sug­ges­tion that the virus came from the insti­tute, co-authored a let­ter pub­lished in the Lancet with 26 oth­er experts “in sup­port of sci­en­tists, pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als com­bat­ing Covid-19 in Chi­na”.

    The let­ter stat­ed: “The rapid, open, and trans­par­ent shar­ing of data on this out­break is now being threat­ened by rumours and mis­in­for­ma­tion around its ori­gins. We stand togeth­er to strong­ly con­demn con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sug­gest­ing that Covid-19 does not have a nat­ur­al ori­gin.”

    At the time of the let­ter the authors declared no com­pet­ing inter­ests but in a state­ment pub­lished on its web­site on Mon­day the Lancet said: “Some read­ers have ques­tioned the valid­i­ty of this dis­clo­sure, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it relates to one of the authors, Peter Daszak.”

    Dr Daszak has worked close­ly with Shi Zhengli, known as “bat­woman”, who leads work into bat virus­es at the insti­tute. And the Eco­Health Alliance, which has been a world leader in the hunt for ani­mal virus­es, has chan­neled some of its fund­ing towards the insti­tute, which involved col­lect­ing sam­ples from bats and peo­ple at risk of infec­tion from bat virus­es.

    That grant was stopped in April 2020 on the orders of then pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump but was rein­stat­ed lat­er in the year.

    In his updat­ed state­ment of com­pet­ing inter­ests Dr Daszak says his organ­i­sa­tion col­lab­o­rates with a range of uni­ver­si­ties and gov­ern­men­tal health and envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence organ­i­sa­tions in Chi­na.

    He says that nei­ther the Eco­Health Alliance nor he per­son­al­ly receive fund­ing from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

    Before he recused him­self from the Lancet com­mis­sion, which is sup­port­ed by the Unit­ed Nations Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Solu­tions Net­work, Dr Daszak was one of a 12-strong inter­na­tion­al team look­ing at the ori­gins of the pan­dem­ic and how future out­breaks could be pre­vent­ed.

    In a doc­u­ment set­ting out its terms of ref­er­ence the team said it would look at mul­ti­ple hypothe­ses into the ori­gins, includ­ing whether the virus was bio­engi­neered in the Wuhan lab or whether it escaped acci­den­tal­ly.

    Ear­li­er this year, Dr Daszak vis­it­ed Chi­na as part of the joint WHO-Chi­na inves­ti­ga­tion into how the coro­n­avirus emerged. That inves­ti­ga­tion con­clud­ed that while a lab­o­ra­to­ry leak was a pos­si­bil­i­ty it was extreme­ly unlike­ly and the virus was most like­ly to have been passed from bats via an “inter­me­di­ate ani­mal host” to humans before spark­ing an “explo­sive out­break” in Wuhan.

    How­ev­er, WHO direc­tor gen­er­al Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghe­breye­sus said all the­o­ries remained on the table and called for fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion. These plans are still being drawn up.

    ...

    ————–

    “UK sci­en­tist at cen­tre of debate over ori­gin of Covid pan­dem­ic ‘recus­es him­self’ from inquiry” by Anne Gul­land; The Tele­graph; 06/22/2021

    “On the commission’s web­site it states that Dr Daszak has “recused him­self from Com­mis­sion work on the ori­gins of the pan­dem­icbut gives no fur­ther infor­ma­tion.

    The com­mis­sion does­n’t tell us why Daszak recused him­self. But it’s not exact­ly a mys­tery. Espe­cial­ly when the Lancet simul­ta­ne­ous­ly updates the con­flict-of-inter­est state­ment on the Feb­ru­ary 2020 let­ter pub­lished in the Lancet where Daszak and oth­ers dis­missed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab leak:

    ...
    In Feb­ru­ary 2020 Dr Daszak, who has strong­ly con­demned any sug­ges­tion that the virus came from the insti­tute, co-authored a let­ter pub­lished in the Lancet with 26 oth­er experts “in sup­port of sci­en­tists, pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als com­bat­ing Covid-19 in Chi­na”.

    The let­ter stat­ed: “The rapid, open, and trans­par­ent shar­ing of data on this out­break is now being threat­ened by rumours and mis­in­for­ma­tion around its ori­gins. We stand togeth­er to strong­ly con­demn con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sug­gest­ing that Covid-19 does not have a nat­ur­al ori­gin.”

    At the time of the let­ter the authors declared no com­pet­ing inter­ests but in a state­ment pub­lished on its web­site on Mon­day the Lancet said: “Some read­ers have ques­tioned the valid­i­ty of this dis­clo­sure, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it relates to one of the authors, Peter Daszak.”
    ...

    Now here’s an excerpt with a bit more on what the Lancet pub­lished with this updat­ed con­flict-of-inter­est dis­clo­sure for that Feb­ru­ary 2020 let­ter. While the updat­ed state­ment on Dasza­k’s con­flicts-of-inter­est don’t explic­it­ly men­tion the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy, it does point out that the Eco­Health Alliance worked in Chi­na “assess­ing the risk of viral spillover across the wildlife-live­stock-human inter­face, and includes behav­iour­al and sero­log­i­cal sur­veys of peo­ple, and eco­log­i­cal and viro­log­i­cal analy­ses of ani­mals” and that this work involved “the pro­duc­tion of a small num­ber of recom­bi­nant bat coro­n­avirus­es to analyse cell entry and oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics of bat coro­n­avirus­es for which only the genet­ic sequences are avail­able.” So Dasza­k’s con­flict-of-inter­est state­ment was updat­ed to include his orga­ni­za­tion’s work cre­at­ing recom­bi­nant bat coro­n­avirus­es in part­ner­ship with Chi­nese researchers, which is a pret­ty big update to a con­flict-of-inter­est state­ment for a let­ter dis­miss­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab leak:

    Times High­er Edu­ca­tion

    Under-fire Lancet admits con­flict of inter­est on lab-leak let­ter
    After crit­i­cism that it failed to declare Peter Daszak’s work with the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy, jour­nal has also ‘recused’ zool­o­gist from its coro­n­avirus ori­gins task­force

    David Matthews
    June 22, 2021

    The Lancet has added a com­pet­ing inter­ests state­ment to a now infa­mous let­ter pub­lished in Feb­ru­ary 2020 that crit­ics argue sti­fled ear­ly debate about the ori­gins of coro­n­avirus with­out suf­fi­cient inves­ti­ga­tion or evi­dence.

    The let­ter, organ­ised and signed by the British zool­o­gist Peter Daszak, con­demned “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sug­gest­ing that Covid-19 does not have a nat­ur­al ori­gin”, seem­ing­ly rul­ing out the prospect of a lab leak right at the begin­ning of the pan­dem­ic.

    But the lab leak the­o­ry, once pushed to the mar­gins of main­stream dis­course, is now seri­ous­ly enter­tained by a num­ber of lead­ing sci­en­tists, although defin­i­tive proof of any one expla­na­tion is still lack­ing.

    Crit­i­cism of The Lancet has focused on its fail­ure to declare in the orig­i­nal let­ter that Dr Daszak had for years fund­ed and worked with the lab at the cen­tre of the leak the­o­ry – the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy. This link, in the eyes of crit­ics, could make Dr Daszak par­tial­ly cul­pa­ble if the lab leak hypoth­e­sis was true.

    Instead, the 27 let­ter sig­na­to­ries declared at the time that they had “no com­pet­ing inter­ests”.

    Now, the jour­nal has added an adden­dum to the let­ter, acknowl­edg­ing that “some read­ers have ques­tioned the valid­i­ty of this dis­clo­sure, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it relates to one of the authors, Peter Daszak”.

    “There may be dif­fer­ences in opin­ion as to what con­sti­tutes a com­pet­ing inter­est,” an expla­na­tion from the jour­nal says. “Trans­par­ent report­ing allows read­ers to make judge­ments about these inter­ests. Read­ers, in turn, have their own inter­ests that could influ­ence their eval­u­a­tion of the work in ques­tion. With these facts in mind, The Lancet invit­ed the 27 authors of the let­ter to re-eval­u­ate their com­pet­ing inter­ests.”

    The jour­nal then pub­lish­es a lengthy com­pet­ing inter­est state­ment about Dr Daszak, which does not explic­it­ly men­tion his work with the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy.

    But it does acknowl­edge that the Eco­Health Alliance, the research fun­der that Dr Daszak leads, worked in Chi­na “assess­ing the risk of viral spillover across the wildlife-live­stock-human inter­face, and includes behav­iour­al and sero­log­i­cal sur­veys of peo­ple, and eco­log­i­cal and viro­log­i­cal analy­ses of ani­mals”.

    “This work includes the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of viral sequences in bat sam­ples, and has result­ed in the iso­la­tion of three bat Sars-relat­ed coro­n­avirus­es that are now used as reagents to test ther­a­peu­tics and vac­cines,” the dis­clo­sure says. “It also includes the pro­duc­tion of a small num­ber of recom­bi­nant bat coro­n­avirus­es to analyse cell entry and oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics of bat coro­n­avirus­es for which only the genet­ic sequences are avail­able.”

    ...

    “Too lit­tle too late,” tweet­ed Ali­na Chan, a mol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gist at the Broad Insti­tute of MIT and Har­vard.

    Dr Daszak has also been “recused” from the journal’s team of experts inves­ti­gat­ing the ori­gins of the pan­dem­ic, it emerged. Ear­li­er this month, he was chair of the body.

    ————

    “Under-fire Lancet admits con­flict of inter­est on lab-leak let­ter” by David Matthews; Times High­er Edu­ca­tion; 06/22/2021

    “Crit­i­cism of The Lancet has focused on its fail­ure to declare in the orig­i­nal let­ter that Dr Daszak had for years fund­ed and worked with the lab at the cen­tre of the leak the­o­ry – the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy. This link, in the eyes of crit­ics, could make Dr Daszak par­tial­ly cul­pa­ble if the lab leak hypoth­e­sis was true.

    Yeah, it’s about as big a con­flict as you could get with a con­flict-of-inter­est state­ment on a lab leak the­o­ry: if it turns out the the­o­ry is true, the peo­ple assert­ing it can’t pos­si­bly be true — and yet are engaged in recom­bi­nant viral work with bat coro­n­avirus­es — could them­selves be par­tial­ly cul­pa­ble:

    ...
    Now, the jour­nal has added an adden­dum to the let­ter, acknowl­edg­ing that “some read­ers have ques­tioned the valid­i­ty of this dis­clo­sure, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it relates to one of the authors, Peter Daszak”.

    “There may be dif­fer­ences in opin­ion as to what con­sti­tutes a com­pet­ing inter­est,” an expla­na­tion from the jour­nal says. “Trans­par­ent report­ing allows read­ers to make judge­ments about these inter­ests. Read­ers, in turn, have their own inter­ests that could influ­ence their eval­u­a­tion of the work in ques­tion. With these facts in mind, The Lancet invit­ed the 27 authors of the let­ter to re-eval­u­ate their com­pet­ing inter­ests.”

    The jour­nal then pub­lish­es a lengthy com­pet­ing inter­est state­ment about Dr Daszak, which does not explic­it­ly men­tion his work with the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy.

    But it does acknowl­edge that the Eco­Health Alliance, the research fun­der that Dr Daszak leads, worked in Chi­na “assess­ing the risk of viral spillover across the wildlife-live­stock-human inter­face, and includes behav­iour­al and sero­log­i­cal sur­veys of peo­ple, and eco­log­i­cal and viro­log­i­cal analy­ses of ani­mals”.

    “This work includes the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of viral sequences in bat sam­ples, and has result­ed in the iso­la­tion of three bat Sars-relat­ed coro­n­avirus­es that are now used as reagents to test ther­a­peu­tics and vac­cines,” the dis­clo­sure says. “It also includes the pro­duc­tion of a small num­ber of recom­bi­nant bat coro­n­avirus­es to analyse cell entry and oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics of bat coro­n­avirus­es for which only the genet­ic sequences are avail­able.”
    ...

    So we’ll see what, if any, impact the recusal of Daszak from the Lancet com­mis­sion on the ori­gins of the virus actu­al­ly has on that com­mis­sion’s work. On the one hand, it’s not hard to cyn­i­cal­ly view this move as an attempt to pre­emp­tive­ly address crit­i­cisms for the con­clu­sion by the com­mis­sion of a nat­ur­al ori­gin. On the oth­er hand, that’s quite an update to Dasza­k’s con­flict-of-inter­est state­ment that includ­ed the Eco­Health Alliance’s work on recom­bi­nant bat coro­n­avirus work. But on the oth­er oth­er hand, it was an update that was basi­cal­ly irrefutable and unavoid­able. Inter­pret­ing the belat­ed acknowl­edge­ment of the irrefutable can be a tricky task.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 23, 2021, 3:38 pm

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