Media pressure on Wuhan lab-linked scientist grows to testify before Congress.
A recently revealed letter is now being added to the pile of evidence that the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 was a lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A letter from Lawrence Tabak, the National Institutes of Health’s principal deputy director, to Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) confirms that the NIH funded research at the WIV during 2018-2019 that manipulated a bat coronavirus called WIV1.
Researchers at the institute grafted spike proteins from other coronaviruses onto WIV1 to see if the modified virus was capable of binding in a mouse that possessed the ACE2 receptors found in humans — the same receptor to which SARS-CoV-2 binds. The modified virus reproduced more rapidly and made infected humanized mice sicker than the unmodified virus.
Starting in 2014, the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, funded the New York-based research nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance with annual grants through 2020 for “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.”
…Tabak’s letter asserts that the modified virus becoming more virulent “was an unexpected result” and not “something that the researchers set out to do” — an odd claim, considering that the whole point of manipulating the virus was to investigate things that could make it more virulent.
Tabak goes on to explain why the altered viruses where not handled at the higher levels of biosafety containment that are more appropriate for diseases that can cause serious or potentially lethal disease through inhalation.
Tabak does not address whether the 2018 WIV experiments he cited in his letter were gain-of-function research. Instead, he maintains that NIH did not consider the WIV experiments so dangerous as to require special review and biosafety measures under the ePPP regulations adopted in 2017 “because these bat coronaviruses had not been shown to infect humans.”
But this is an unconvincing technicality. Other bat coronaviruses had already caused two deadly diseases, SARS and MERS, and other coronaviruses regularly circulate and infect humans to cause the common cold. It isn’t a stretch to think that a different coronavirus could become dangerous, too—particularly if used in an experiment designed to manipulate a virus that humans have never encountered to see if it could acquire the ability to infect humans.
After explaining why NIH didn’t review the proposal under its guidelines, Tabak’s letter claims that EcoHealth violated the terms of its grant stipulating that it had to report if its research increased the viral growth of a pathogen by tenfold—terms that NIH inserted “out of an abundance of caution and as an added layer of oversight.” But the letter never explains why this stipulation was necessary. This blame-shifting is not only unseemly but also may be untrue: EcoHealth maintains that it reported the results in its April 2018, year-four report.
This revelation will lead to even more pressure for Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance research organization at the center of this investigation, to testify as to what actually happened in Wuhan.
“Mr. Daszak has publicly dismissed the lab-leak theory while organizing scientists behind the scenes to rally against it. He and key subordinates should share all documents related to the WIV and speak under oath about their work,” the Wall Street Journal wrote. “This should be followed by a comprehensive investigation into the federal process that led to Mr. Daszak’s outfit and the WIV being rewarded taxpayer dollars.”
The Post laid out a series of “unanswered questions” by Daszak, his relationship with the lab, and his promotion of “gain of function” research.
“Why did he not disclose his 2018 proposal to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for research on bat coronaviruses with the WIV and others, which called for engineering a modification onto spike proteins of chimeric viruses that would make them infect human cells in the way the pandemic strain did? What does he know about the databases of viruses that WIV took offline in 2019 and never brought back? Does he know what research the WIV may have done on its own, during or after their collaboration? What was being done at WIV in the months before the pandemic?” the Post wrote.
“Mr. Daszak must answer these questions before Congress. His grants were federal funds, and it is entirely appropriate for Congress to insist on accountability and transparency. He might also help the world understand what really happened in Wuhan,” the Post wrote.
Fox News contributor Dr. Marty Makary said there’s a “99.9% chance” the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab and slammed what he called a medical oligarchy unchecked by the press.
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