In a December 16, 2020, Independent Science News article,1 journalist Sam Husseini reveals new evidence tying the EcoHealth Alliance to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) — links that add a new dimension to analyses of the underlying purpose of the group's research activities into coronaviruses and, potentially, the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic itself.
The New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on pandemic prevention, has played a central role in the current pandemic. As noted by Husseini:2
- When SARS-CoV-2 first emerged in Wuhan, China, the EcoHealth Alliance was providing funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to collect and study novel bat coronaviruses.
- EcoHealth Alliance president Peter Daszak has been the primary expert chosen by the mainstream media to explain the origin of the pandemic.
- Daszak is also intimately involved in the two major international committees tasked with investigating the origin of the virus. He's both a member of the World Health Organization's committee3 and the head of The Lancet's COVID-19 commission,4 even though he has openly and repeatedly dismissed the possibility of the pandemic being the result of a lab leak.5
As noted by Husseini, the fact that EcoHealth Alliance has received nearly $39 million — one-third of the organization's total budget — from the U.S. DOD has never been mentioned in any of Daszak's media appearances. It's also never been mentioned during any of the discussions of the EcoHealth Alliance's role before or during the pandemic.
Daszak Responsible for Obscuring SARS-CoV-2 Origin
In a November 18, 2020, article,6,7 U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), an investigative public health nonprofit group, reported that emails obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests prove that Daszak played a central role in the plot to obscure the lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 by issuing a scientific statement condemning such inquiries as “conspiracy theory”:
“Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know show that a statement8 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 …
The emails … 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'9 but rather to be seen as ‘simply a letter from leading scientists.'10 Daszak wrote that he wanted ‘to avoid the appearance of a political statement.'11
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.”
USRTK also pointed out that several of the authors of that Lancet statement have direct ties to the EcoHealth Alliance that were not disclosed as conflicts of interest:12
“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.”
Five other members of The Lancet Commission also signed the February 18, 2020, statement in The Lancet,13 which puts their credibility in question as well. All of this suggests The Lancet Commission's investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is little more than a cover-up operation.
Money Trail Leads to Pentagon
While all of that is bad enough, we now have Husseini's report, showing that EcoHealth Alliance has been receiving substantial funding from the DOD. In fact, the organization gets more money from the DOD than the National Institutes of Health. What's more, it appears EcoHealth Alliance has gone to some length to obscure this funding. As reported by Husseini:14
“For much of this year, Daszak's EcoHealth Alliance garnered a great deal of sympathetic media coverage after its $3.7 million five-year NIH grant was prematurely cut when the Trump administration learned that EcoHealth Alliance funded bat coronavirus research at the WIV.
The temporary cut was widely depicted in major media as Trump undermining the EcoHealth Alliance's noble fight against pandemics. The termination was reversed by NIH in late August, and even upped to $7.5 million. But entirely overlooked amid the claims and counter-claims was that far more funding for the EcoHealth Alliance comes from the Pentagon than the NIH.
Even this listing is deceptive. It obscures that its two largest funders are the Pentagon and the State Department (USAID); whereas the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which accounts for a minuscule $74,487, comes before either.
Meticulous investigation15 of U.S. government databases reveals that Pentagon funding for the EcoHealth Alliance from 2013 to 2020, including contracts, grants and subcontracts, was just under $39 million. Most, $34.6 million, was from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which is a branch of the DOD which states it is tasked to ‘counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and improvised threat networks.'”
Other Military Connections
Husseini also uncovered another military connection to the EcoHealth Alliance. One of its policy advisers is David Franz, a former Fort Detrick commander. Fort Detrick is the principal government biowarfare/biodefense facility in the U.S. Franz was one of the people who promoted the story that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — a false claim that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
“Four significant insights emerge from all this,” Husseini writes.16“First, although it is called the EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak and his non-profit work closely with the military. Second, the EcoHealth Alliance attempts to conceal these military connections.
Third, through militaristic language and analogies Daszak and his colleagues promote what is often referred to as, and even then somewhat euphemistically, an ongoing agenda known as ‘securitization.' In this case it is the securitization of infectious diseases and of global public health.
That is, they argue that pandemics constitute a vast and existential threat. They minimize the very real risks associated with their work, and sell it as a billion-dollar solution. The fourth insight is that Daszak himself, as the Godfather of the Global Virome Project, stands to benefit from the likely outlay of public funds.”
The Role of Shi Zhengli
Other key figures in the COVID-19 pandemic are Shi Zhengli, Ph.D., and Ralph Baric, Ph.D. The two were part of a joint research program into bat coronaviruses, conducted at the University of North Carolina and WIV. When U.S.-based gain-of-function research was placed under moratorium in 2014, money was funneled to the WIV where Shi continued the work.17
Shi and Baric were two of the co-authors named on a 2015 study18 published in Nature Medicine, in which they discussed the possibility of bat coronaviruses affecting humans. As reported by The Gateway Pundit back in April 2020:19
“After the work stopped in the US, the Chinese moved forward with the project and ran research and development in Wuhan at the Wuhan Virology Center. From Shi Zhengli's papers and resume, it is clear that they successfully isolated the virus in the lab and were actively experimenting with species to species transmission.
It's also important to note that back in 2017 we had solid intelligence about a viral leak in a high security Chinese virology R&D center that resulted in the SARS virus getting out and killing people. This information provides a basis that contradicts the theory that [SARS-CoV-2] is a variant that just magically mutated in a bat in the wild and then jumped to a human when they ate bat soup.”
The Gateway Pundit went on to quote Shi from a Chinese interview published in December 2017, in which she stated that bat coronaviruses collected from a cave in Kunming, Yunnan between 2011 and 2015 had the genetic components of the SARS strain responsible for human outbreaks. Interestingly, she also stated that both diagnostic techniques and vaccines for the coronaviruses capable of easily infecting humans had already been developed.
Spotlight on Ralph Baric
Emails obtained by USRTK also shed light on the role Baric and others have played in the creation of the natural origin narrative. As reported by USRTK, December 14, 2020:20
“The emails of coronavirus expert Professor Ralph Baric … show conversations between National Academy of Sciences (NAS) representatives, and experts in biosecurity and infectious diseases from U.S. universities and the EcoHealth Alliance.
On Feb. 3, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) to ‘convene meeting of experts… to assess what data, information and samples are needed to address the unknowns, in order to understand the evolutionary origins of 2019-nCoV, and more effectively respond to both the outbreak and any resulting misinformation.'
Baric and other infectious disease experts were involved in drafting the response. The emails show the experts' internal discussions and an early draft dated Feb. 4. The early draft described ‘initial views of the experts' that ‘the available genomic data are consistent with natural evolution and that there is currently no evidence that the virus was engineered to spread more quickly among humans.'
This draft sentence posed a question, in parentheses: ‘[ask experts to add specifics re binding sites?]' It also included a footnote in parentheses: ‘[possibly add brief explanation that this does not preclude an unintentional release from a laboratory studying the evolution of related coronaviruses].'”
In a February 4, 2020, email response, infectious disease expert Trevor Bedford recommended skipping any mention of binding sites, because weighing evidence would provide support for both the natural origin and lab origin scenarios. USRTK points out that the issue of binding sites is an important one, as the distinctive binding sites of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein “confer ‘near-optimal' binding and entry of the virus into human cells.”
Scientists have argued that the SARS-CoV-2's unique binding sites may be the result of either natural spillover in the wild, or deliberate recombination of an unidentified viral ancestor. As such, there's no reason to dismiss the lab-creation theory. Still, despite wide-open questions, Daszak, Baric and the rest of the group appear to have been intent on shutting down discussions about this possibility. USRTK writes:21
“Kristian Andersen, lead author of an influential Nature Medicine paper asserting a natural origin of SARS-CoV-2, said the early draft was ‘great, but I do wonder if we need to be more firm on the question of engineering.' He continued, ‘If one of the main purposes of this document is to counter those fringe theories, I think it's very important that we do so strongly and in plain language …'
In his response, Baric aimed at conveying a scientific basis for SARS-CoV-2's natural origin. ‘I do think we need to say that the closest relative to this virus (96%) was identified from bats circulating in a cave in Yunnan, China. This makes a strong statement for animal origin.'”
In a series of December 2020 Twitter posts,22 Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, also points out other details in the released emails suggesting the group were intentionally trying to squelch discussions about a lab origin.
Scientific Hubris Is a Serious Threat to Us All
December 18, 2020, Colin David Butler,23 Ph.D., of the Australian National University, published an editorial24 in the Journal of Human Security in which he reviews the history of pandemics from antiquity through COVID-19, along with evidence supporting the natural origin and lab escape theories respectively. As noted by Butler:
“If the first theory is correct then it is a powerful warning, from nature, that our species is running a great risk. If the second theory is proven then it should be considered an equally powerful, indeed frightening, signal that we are in danger, from hubris as much as from ignorance.”
Indeed, scientific hubris may well be at the heart of our current problem. Why are certain scientists so reluctant to admit there's evidence of human interference? Why do they try to shut down discussion? Could it be because they're trying to ensure the continuation of gain-of-function research, despite the risks?
We're often told that this kind of research is “necessary” in order to stay ahead of the natural evolution of viruses, and that the risks associated with such research are minimal due to stringent safety protocols.
Yet the evidence shows a very different picture. For the past decade, red flags have repeatedly been raised within the scientific community as biosecurity breaches in high containment biological labs in the U.S. and around the world have occurred with surprising frequency.25,26,27,28,29
As recently as 2019, the BSL 4 lab in Fort Detrick was temporarily shut down after several protocol violations were noted.30 Asia Times31 lists several other examples of safety breaches at BSL3 and BSL4 labs, as does a May 28, 2015, article in USA Today,32 an April 11, 2014, article in Slate magazine33 and a November 16, 2020, article in Medium.34
The Medium article,35 written by Gilles Demaneuf, reviews SARS lab escapes specifically. No less than three out of four reappearances of SARS have been attributed to safety breaches. Clearly, getting to the bottom of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is crucial if we are to prevent a similar pandemic from erupting in the future. And, as noted by National Review:36
“In a strange way, the ‘lab accident' scenario is one of the most reassuring explanations. It means that if we want to ensure we never experience this again, we simply need to get every lab in the world working on contagious viruses to ensure 100 percent compliance with safety protocols, all the time.”
As long as we are creating the risk, the benefit will be secondary. Any scientific or medical gains made from this kind of research pales in comparison to the incredible risks involved if these creations are released. This sentiment has been echoed by others in a variety of scientific publications.37,38,39,40
Considering the potential for a massively lethal pandemic, I believe it's safe to say that BSL 3 and 4 laboratories pose a very real and serious existential threat to humanity. Historical facts tell us accidental exposures and releases have already happened, and we only have our lucky stars to thank that none have turned into pandemics taking the lives of millions.