Alex Berenson | 4 Oct 2022
Is the National Institutes of Health this tone-deaf or playing the long game?
Like Covid, Peter Daszak won’t go away.
For two years, Daszak, a British zoologist in New York, has faced hard questions about his relationship with a Chinese laboratory experimenting on bat coronaviruses – and his efforts to stop anyone from investigating if Sars-Cov-2 leaked from that lab.
After repeated “misstatements” by Daszak on his relationship with the Chinese and his work on coronaviruses, he has become increasingly radioactive.
Yet less than two weeks ago, the National Institutes of Health awarded Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance, his nonprofit, a new $3.3 million, five-year grant for research on coronaviruses.
The grant covers Southeast Asian countries. But its specifics are otherwise very similar to EcoHealth’s previous work in China – work at the heart of the controversy around the origins of Sars-Cov-2.
Perhaps the most crucial question is why the NIH would give Daszak more money at all. The move appears to be either remarkably tone deaf or a deliberate decision to frustrate the agency’s critics.
Unless, of course, the NIH is hoping that Daszak and EcoHealth will somehow emerge next year from an obscure cave in Myanmar or Laos with a coronavirus that is a plausible precursor to Sars-Cov-2 – thus solving the mystery of the virus’s origins and putting that naughty lab leak theory to bed.
So far, such a coronavirus has escaped painstaking efforts to “find” it. Then again, no other scientist is as motivated as Daszak to do so.
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A quick recap of Daszak and his role in the the controversy around the origins of Sars-Cov-2.
Only weeks after the virus emerged, Daszak helped write a crucial letter to the Lancet, a top medical journal, suggesting “prejudice” motivated anyone who raised the possibility that it had leaked from a Chinese lab. Ever since, Daszak has insisted Sars-Cov-2 must have leapt from an animal to humans.
But scientists have never found a plausible precursor virus, despite testing bats and farmed and wild animals all over China. In contrast, researchers found the path the original SARS virus took from bats to humans less than a year after SARS emerged.
Meanwhile, Daszak and EcoHealth have repeatedly been caught in misstatements and omissions about their roles working with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The institute is based in the city where Covid emerged – and just happened to have the closest known relative to Sars-Cov-2 in its freezers at the time.
Or, as nearly the entire elite media insisted for more than a year, COINCIDENCE! CONSPIRACY THEORY!
Probably the strongest evidence against Daszak and his nonprofit emerged last September.
An independent research group called DRASTIC found and published a 2018 grant proposal from EcoHealth proposing to insert “furin cleavage sites” into coronaviruses to make them more dangerous. Unlike nearly all other bat coronaviruses, Sars-Cov-2 has such a furin cleavage site – and its specific genetic details make it especially unlikely to be natural.
Yet EcoHealth and Daszak had not revealed the existence of the proposal, which the Defense Department had rejected as potentially risky. Even EcoHealth’s apologists admitted he should have.
Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been one of the leading independent investigators of the origins of Sars-Cov-2, explained the importance of the furin cleavage work in a December 2021 series of tweets:
On whether the unique furin cleavage site, which makes SARS-CoV-2 the pandemic pathogen that it is, was genetically engineered, please see the comments of unassailable virologists.#OriginOfCovid pic.twitter.com/jpBL3j47XR— Alina Chan (@Ayjchan) December 12, 2021
The controversy around Daszak and EcoHealth seemed to ensure that – at the least – he would never again be given American taxpayer money to conduct risky experiments on bat coronaviruses.