The nonprofit at the center of Covid lab leak questions today doubled down on its claim it’s just a ‘coincidence’ the virus emerged in the city it funded risky research.
EcoHealth – which is headed by the controversial scientist and friend of Dr Anthony Fauci, Dr Peter Daszak – directed millions of US taxpayer dollars to the lab to fund dangerous coronavirus research before the pandemic hit.
In a reactive statement released while the explosive hearing was still taking place, the non-profit said: ‘[The] “strongest pieces of evidence” for a laboratory origin also fail to stand up to scrutiny.’
EcoHealth gave $3.3million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to perform risky research on bat coronaviruses before the pandemic hit.
During this time, Dr Fauci presided over the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) — a part of the NIH.
At the end of 2019, the virus that would eventually spark a global pandemic emerged in Wuhan with early cases linked to a seafood market just eight miles away from the WIV.
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic hearing was addressed by former Clinton administration official Dr Jaime Metzl, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chief under Donald Trump, Dr Robert Redfield.
Also featured was a former New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade, among other speakers, tied the research to the pandemic’s origins.
‘Mr. Wade’s other “strongest pieces of evidence” for a laboratory origin also fail to stand up to scrutiny,’ EcoHealth said in a statement.
‘He claims that the emergence of COVID-19 in Wuhan, the home of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, is “evidence” for laboratory origin, rather than just a coincidence – but he provides no data to demonstrate that his assumption is correct.’
At the hearing Wednesday, Mr Wade noted the proximity of the WIV to the initial outbreak of cases, which occurred just miles away at the Huanan Seafood market.
The WIV is one of Asia’s leading virus research institutes and undergoes heavy research into coronaviruses in particular.
‘The epidemic broke out not in some random Chinese city but right in Wuhan, home of the [WIV],’ he explained.
‘We know that scientists there were genetically engineering coronaviruses under seriously inadequate safety conditions, and we know viruses escape from labs all the time. Clearly, lab leak has to be a strong possibility.’
Mr Wade led the Times’ science section from 1990 to 2012. He has also worked as an editor for the prestigious publications Nature and Science.
‘If the virus had emerged naturally, it should have left many tell-tale signs in the environment,’ Mr Wade told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
‘[It] has yet appeared despite the Chinese government’s keen interest in finding them.
‘As each month passes without such evidence – the natural origins idea has grown steadily weaker, it seems to me. For lab leak, on the other hand, the evidence has been building.’
The author accused Dr Fauci and former director NIH director Dr Francis Collins for covering up the alleged lab-leak.
‘Fauci was probably not too pleased to hear that the virus might have escaped from research that his agency had funded,’ he said.
Dr Fauci reiterated this week that he has kept an open mind about the virus’s origins.
It was revealed this week, though, that he commissioned a study attempting to disprove that notion in February 2020.
But, new evidence shows he may have played a key role in suppressing discussions about the WIV.
EcoHealth Alliance was awarded $8million in Government research grants between 2014 and 2021, which it subcontracted to research facilities.
The WIV was one of eight teams awarded grants at that time.