Editor’s Note: RedState first reported on U.S.-funded grants to EcoHealth Alliance for gain-of-function research back in May. At that time, we also demanded an apology from Facebook’s fact-checkers, who dismissed the lab-leak theory out of hand, labeling it fake news. We’re still waiting for that apology.
Newly released documents published by The Intercept give a frightening overview of what research was being done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and how it very well could have led to an accidental release of the deadly coronavirus that led to a worldwide pandemic.
One of the grants in question, “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” went to EcoHealth Alliance, whose president, Peter Daszak, has been agitating for months to debunk the lab-leak theory for the coronavirus. And yet, the specifics of the grant show the dangerous turn that research took.
“This is a road map to the high-risk research that could have led to the current pandemic,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right To Know. USRTK is an organization that publishes “what is known and not known about the origins of SARS-CoV-2, accidents and leaks at biosafety and biowarfare laboratories.”
One of the grants, titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” outlines an ambitious effort led by EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak to screen thousands of bat samples for novel coronaviruses. The research also involved screening people who work with live animals. The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed. The documents raise additional questions about the theory that the pandemic may have begun in a lab accident, an idea that Daszak has aggressively dismissed.
The grant to EcoHealth Alliance and Peter Daszak was worth $3.1 million. The details of the grant show that some of the research looks very much like “gain-of-function” research. White House coronavirus director Antony Fauci said under oath at a Senate hearing that the grants did not authorize gain-of-function research.
But was that a lie? Senator Rand Paul accused Fauci of lying under oath and ask the Department of Justice to investigate.
According to Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, the documents contain critical information about the research done in Wuhan, including about the creation of novel viruses. “The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell,” Ebright wrote to The Intercept after reviewing the documents. Ebright also said the documents make it clear that two different types of novel coronaviruses were able to infect humanized mice. “While they were working on SARS-related coronavirus, they were carrying out a parallel project at the same time on MERS-related coronavirus,” Ebright said, referring to the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
This appears to be “gain-of-function” research in all but name. Just because it isn’t referred to as “gain-of-function” research doesn’t mean that isn’t exactly what it was.
One prominent coronavirus researcher, Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute, thinks the documents show that EcoHealth Alliance has a lot to be worried about.
“In this proposal, they actually point out that they know how risky this work is. They keep talking about people potentially getting bitten — and they kept records of everyone who got bitten,” Chan said. “Does EcoHealth have those records? And if not, how can they possibly rule out a research-related accident?”
There is enough damning new information in these documents that Dr. Fauci should be forced to resign. His fierce resistance to the lab-leak theory as well as his recent grudging acceptance that further research was needed, underscore that his signing off on dangerous research in an unsafe lab could very well have let loose this virus on the world.