Biotechnology, Health, News, Virus Origins November 19, 2020

EcoHealth Alliance Orchestrated Key Scientists’ Statement on “natural origin” of SARS-CoV-2

by Jonathan Latham

Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know show that a statement in The Lancet authored by 27 prominent public health scientists condemning “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin” was organized by employees of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit group that has received millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funding to genetically manipulate coronaviruses with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

peter daszak ecohealth alliance
Peter Daszak of the Ecohealth Alliance

The emails obtained via public records requests show that EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak drafted the Lancet statement, and that he intended it to “not be identifiable as coming from any one organization or person” but rather to be seen as “simply a letter from leading scientists”. Daszak wrote that he wanted “to avoid the appearance of a political statement”.

The scientists’ letter appeared in The Lancet on February 18, just one week after the World Health Organization announced that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus would be named COVID-19.

The 27 authors “strongly condemn[ed] conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” and reported that scientists from multiple countries “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.” The letter included no scientific references to refute a lab-origin theory of the virus. One scientist, Linda Saif, asked via email whether it would be useful “to add just one or 2 statements in support of why nCOV is not a lab generated virus and is naturally occuring? Seems critical to scientifically refute such claims!” Daszak responded, “I think we should probably stick to a broad statement.”

Growing calls to investigate the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a potential source of SARS-CoV-2 have led to increased scrutiny of EcoHealth Alliance. The emails show how members of EcoHealth Alliance played an early role in framing questions about possible lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 as “crackpot theories that need to be addressed,” as Daszak told The Guardian.

Although the phrase “EcoHealth Alliance” appeared only once in The Lancet statement, in association with co-author Daszak, several other co-authors also have direct ties to the group that were not disclosed as conflicts of interest. Rita Colwell and James Hughes are members of the Board of Directors of EcoHealth Alliance, William Karesh is the group’s Executive Vice President for Health and Policy, and Hume Field is Science and Policy Advisor.

The statement’s authors also claimed that the “rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins.” Today, however, little is known about the origins of SARS-CoV-2, and investigations into its origins by the World Health Organization and The Lancet COVID-19 commission have been shrouded in secrecy and mired by conflicts of interests.

Peter Daszak, Rita Colwell, and The Lancet Editor Richard Horton did not provide comments in response to our requests for this story.

This article is reprinted from the website of US Right to Know.

For more information:

A link to the entire batch of EcoHealth Alliance emails can be found here: EcoHealth Alliance emails: University of Maryland (466 pages)

U.S. Right to Know is posting documents obtained through public freedom of information (FOI) requests for our Biohazards investigation in our post: FOI documents on origins of SARS-CoV-2, hazards of gain-of-function research and biosafety labs.

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Comments 5
  • Peter Daszak and colleagues at the EcoHealth Alliance and Shi Zengli and colleagues at the Wuhan Virology Institute must have a pretty clear idea about where the virus came from, but have kept their silence other than denial. It seems crazy the WHO has to spend public money and much effort to find out things that are known. At least WHO, investigating in China now, needd to clear up these human mysteries first, then judge the significance of the MSc thesis about the 6 workers who fell ill 5-6 years ago, (3 died) and what happened to the analysis of their samples, then what might the doctor (I forget his name) who was imprisoned and died shortly after release – what might he have known? If WHO does not report on these glaring questions, then we will not be able to accept their findings.

  • Follow the grant-money trail; all gain-of-function research “roads” lead to Daszak and Fauci.
    Follow the “lying cover-up trail”; all roads again lead you there, plus CCP and WIV.
    Follow your instincts/common-sense; all roads lead to Wuhan.

  • So hiding the details, cover-up, inaccessible database, and all sort of blockages by China won’t be any crime?
    Seems China has grown all too powerful to be messed with. Other countries have just become sort of satellites around it. We need to take first step in unseating it from UN permanent seat

  • Here are the names of the individuals (not scientists) who signed the Lancet letter staking their ‘reputation’ on the “fact” that SARS-CoV-2 originated in nature. The names should be widely circulated so that if they are seen authoring other articles they can be judged with due skepticism:
    Charles Calisher (Colorado State University, Fort Collins), Dennis Carroll (Texas A&M), Rita Colwell (U MD), Ronald B Corley (NEIDL Institute, Boston), Peter Daszak (EcoHealth Alliance, New York), Christian Drosten (Charité – Universitatsmedizin Berlin), Luis Enjuanes (National Center of Biotechnology, Madrid, Spain), Jeremy Farrar (The Wellcome Trust, London), Hume Field (University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia), Josie Golding (The Wellcome Trust, London), Alexander Gorbalenya (Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands), Bart Haagmans (Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands), James M Hughes (Emory University), William B Karesh (World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Working Group on Wildlife, New York), Gerald T Keusch (Boston University), Sai Kit Lam (University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Juan Lubroth (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy), John S Mackenzie (Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia), Larry Madoff (Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA), Jonna Mazet, (UC Davis), Peter Palese (Icahn School of Medicine, Mt Sinai Hospital, New York), Stanley Perlman (University of Iowa), Leo Poon (University of Hong Kong), Bernard Roizman (U Chicago), Linda Saif (Ohio St, Columbus), Kanta Subbarao (The University of Melbourne, Melboune, VIC, Australia), Mike Turner (The Wellcome Trust, London), Kristian Andersen (Scripps), Robert F. Garry (Tulane), Edward Holmes(University of Sydney), Andrew Rambaut (University of Edinburgh), W. Ian Lipkin (Columbia University)

    They share the company of Dr Bill Summerlin – paint the mice.

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