As noted by Spiked reporter Matt Ridley,1 “It is completely normal to start inquiries into mass deaths by asking how they happened — so that you can stop them happening again …”
Yet, in the case of the COVID pandemic, all questioning and discussion about the virus’s origin have been dismissed as more or less irrelevant, and mainstream journalists have mysteriously steered clear of what could easily be one of the biggest stories of their lifetimes. As reported by Ridley:2
“The evidence that this virus probably came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is now voluminous, detailed and strong.3 That an outbreak caused by a bat sarbecovirus should happen in the one city in the world that had been collecting hundreds of bat sarbecoviruses and experimenting on them is striking enough.
That it happened one year after that lab proposed inserting the one feature that distinguishes SARS‑CoV‑2 from all other viruses of the same kind makes it a heck of a coincidence.
That the virus was highly infectious from the start, highly attuned to human receptors and evolving comparatively slowly, implying it had been already trained on human cells, was a shock.
That the lab in question refuses to this day to release the database of the viruses it had been working on is as insulting as it is suspicious. The coincidences of time and place are truly spectacular …4
Millions are dead around the world and the most likely cause is an accident during a risky experiment in a laboratory. Should we not be learning lessons from that?”
An Intentional Coverup
Evidence suggests the lab leak theory has been intentionally ignored because the individuals who had a hand in creating SARS-CoV-2 needed to cover up the fact that it was manmade to protect reputations and money flows.
The lesson to be learned is that we cannot afford to allow this kind of research to continue, and that’s a public realization the scientific community is desperate to avoid. The reality, however, is that extremely risky research is being conducted, and the scientific community is playing fast and loose regarding safety.
In 2018, Peter Daszak, a British zoologist and president of EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based research organization, submitted a grant proposal to the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), requesting $14 million for gain-of-function (GOF) research on bat sarbecoviruses.
His DEFUSE proposal5,6,7 specifically spelled out the intent to insert “human-specific cleavage sites” into sarbecoviruses, a genus of coronavirus to which SARS-CoV belongs. This also happens to be one of the radically novel features that makes SARS-CoV-2 so infectious to humans. Of the 1,500 coronaviruses known to exist, none but SARS-CoV-2 has this cleavage site.
According to the proposal, the work was to be carried out either at a biosafety level 3 (BSL- 3) lab in Wuhan, the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, Ralph Baric’s lab at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and/or the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center.
It didn’t specify which portions of the research would be done where, yet Daszak has insisted that the work was always intended to be carried out at the UNC, not the WIV.8
Leaked Document Shows Daszak Intended to Deceive DARPA
The DEFUSE proposal came to light after being leaked in the fall of 2021.9 In his defense, Daszak has argued that the Pentagon rejected the proposal, so the research was never carried out.10
However, at the end of December 2023, Emily Kopp with U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) received an early draft11 of the DEFUSE proposal with comments from Daszak and Baric in the margins, which revealed Daszak intentionally misled DARPA about where the research was to be conducted.
In one comment, he even admits seeking to “downplay the non-U.S. focus of [the] proposal” 12 by not including the biographies of Shi Zhengli, the so-called “bat lady” at the WIV, and Duke-NUS Medical School Professor Linfa Wang, both of whom were going to be involved in the experiments. Baric, for his part, also stressed the risks involved.
“Ralph, Zhengli. If we win this contract, I do not propose that all of this work will necessarily be conducted by Ralph [Baric], but I do want to stress the US side of this proposal so that DARPA are comfortable with our team,” Daszak wrote,13 adding, “Once we get the funds, we can then allocate who does what exact work, and I believe that a lot of these assays can be done in Wuhan as well.”
Baric replied to Daszak’s comment, stating:14
“In the US, these recombinant SARS-CoV are studied under BSL3 … In China, [we] might be growin[g] these virus[es] under BSL2. US [researchers] will likely freak out.
As noted by Justin Kinney, a quantitative biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and cofounder of Biosafety Now, the comments by Daszak and Baric are “damning.”
“These revelations are important because these specific experiments could, quite plausibly, have led to the genetic engineering and accidental release of SARS-CoV-2,” Kinney told Kopp.15
“BSL-2 experiments are more convenient and less expensive than BSL-3 experiments … However, BSL-2 provides a far lower level of biosafety than BSL-3 does. This lower safety level is especially dangerous for experiments involving viruses that can be transmitted by air.
It is very concerning that Daszak and Baric appear to have considered it legitimate to move high-risk experiments from BSL-3 to BSL-2. It is also concerning that they appear to have considered doing so in secret, instead of disclosing this important change of experimental plans and biosafety precautions in their grant proposal.”
Was the Risky GOF Research Still Carried Out?
As for whether the research detailed in the DEFUSE proposal was ever carried out, it’s possible, but evidence is still lacking. According to Ridley,16, “there is every chance the work went ahead with funding from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”
USRTK also notes that even though the Pentagon didn’t fund it, Daszak may have had the ability to do the research using an earlier grant from the National Institutes of Health:17
“A progress report18 for that NIH grant for the year ending in May 2018 shows that the Wuhan Institute of Virology and EcoHealth Alliance conducted gain-of-function research on coronaviruses and tested them in mice engineered to express human receptors.”
The NIH research grant, “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” was originally awarded in 2014. In 2019, it was renewed until 2026 but was temporarily suspended between April and July 2020 due to EcoHealth’s ties to the WIV.
Four days after the grant was suspended, Daszak wrote an email stating his “plan is to continue this work, unfunded for now …” 19 As noted by USRTK, “His email … seems to contrast with his public statements that work on the grant came to a halt without funding.” Could the same be true for the DEFUSE experiments?
“The contrast between Daszak’s email and public statements about unfunded work raises questions about his statements on a second controversial EcoHealth grant proposal that had the potential to lead to the existence of SARS-CoV-2,” Kopp writes.20
“This second proposal, called DEFUSE, was never funded. It was submitted to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and proposed adding something called a cleavage site to the spike proteins of SARS-related coronaviruses. SARS-CoV-2 has a furin cleavage site in its spike protein, but no other viruses closely related to it have this site.
The WIV was a partner on the proposal. Though DEFUSE was rejected, similarities between the proposed research and SARS-CoV-2 generated speculation on whether any of the planned work had been carried out.
When asked, Daszak responded, ‘… we would not be doing that research before we submit the proposal. That’s not how it works.’ According to Richard Ebright, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, investigators do often perform research before submitting their grant proposals.
‘In the molecular life sciences, it is the norm to begin, and often make substantial progress on, new lines of research before seeking and obtaining funding for the research,’ said Ebright.
‘It would be unusual for a research group with multiple current lines of funding not to have started a new line of research before obtaining funding for it, and it would be almost unheard of for a group with multiple current lines of support not to proceed with a new line of research simply because an application for an additional line of funding application was not approved.’”
In a December 2023 interview21 with investigative journalist Paul Thacker, Dr. Robert Kadlec — who has worked to counter the proliferation of biological weapons for more than 30 years and helped write much of the U.S. biodefense legislation — confirmed what now seems obvious.
Namely, federally funded scientists have engaged in a “colossal misdirection” to hide evidence showing the pandemic began in a Wuhan lab funded by American tax dollars. As for their motive, he believes it’s to protect reputations and access to federal grant money.
Aside from Daszak and Baric, other individuals who appear to have played central roles in this misdirection include22 Scripps researcher Kristian Andersen, who, in a February 1, 2020, email to Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that “some of the features” of SARS-CoV-2 “look engineered,” and that he and three other researchers all found “the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.”
Shortly thereafter, he published an article in Nature Medicine refuting that the virus might be manmade. Similarly, Fauci in a February 1, 2020, email to Dr. Francis Collins and several others noted there were mutations in the virus that were unlikely to have evolved naturally in bats, and that the experts he’d been in contact with suspected the mutation may have been “intentionally inserted.”
Publicly, however, Fauci dismissed the lab leak theory as unfounded conspiracy theory. Within weeks, several other virologists who echoed Andersen’s concerns also mysteriously ended up putting their names to papers refuting the lab leak theory.
That included virologist Eddie Holmes, who also happens to have been a guest professor at the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing — a fact he did not disclose and has since deleted from his publicly available CV.
All of these papers are highly suspect. One of them was cosigned by Jeremy Farrar, who put together the February 1 call with Fauci. Another was ghostwritten by Baric and Zhengli,23, and the third paper was pushed through to publication by Fauci and Farrar.
Was the Pandemic a Result of NIH-Funded Research?
“How do we get three papers bubble up into the academic literature, within six weeks, that all come to the complete opposite conclusion of what virologists privately speculated on February 1?” Thacker asks.
“I’d like to know, too,” Kadlec replies. “I wish I could explain that … Fauci got this other group, with Jeremy Farrar, and his buddies. And this group privately says they have concerns, and then publicly say there’s no way a lab accident could happen. That’s the chain of events …
[Fauci] is a real operator, man. I’m not saying that HE misled us, but somehow we went from one story to the other. The cabal seems to be Jeremy Farrar, Francis Collins and Fauci. They seem to be the center of what was going on.
Then you have these researchers, Kristian Anderson, Robert Garry and the others being included. Mike Worobey wasn’t part of these conversations, but he became a public mouthpiece for a lot of this. I’m very suspect of what happened. As much as you would like to think Fauci is behind this, I think Collins may be the guy …
I think what was driven here was reputational risk to NIH and to the two people that both advocated — Fauci and Collins — for unfettered, scientific research, meaning gain-of-function research. NIH funded gain-of-function research may have resulted in this accident …
[Y]ou can’t make a cogent, convincing argument that it came naturally from an animal. What they were trying to do is make the argument that it’s zoonotic, and there’s no evidence to support that …
It looks like an information operation to me. That’s … how I view this. Misdirection. It’s like denial and deception … The motivation seems to be obvious, right? It’s reputational risk and institutional risk to these funders.”
- 1, 2, 16 Spiked December 20, 2023
- 3 Wall Street Journal February 26, 2023
- 4 BBC March 1, 2023
- 5 DEFUSE Proposal March 27, 2018
- 6, 9 The Intercept September 23, 2021
- 7 Disinformation Chronicle Substack December 22, 2023
- 8 Science March 8, 2023
- 10 The Intercept March 11, 2022
- 11, 15, 17, 20 USRTK December 18, 2023
- 12 USRTK Peter Daszak comment 2
- 13 USRTK Peter Daszak comment 1
- 14 USRTK Ralph Baric comment 1
- 18 The Intercept September 9, 2021
- 19 USRTK Daszak Emails
- 21, 22 Disinformation Chronicle Substack December 20, 2023
- 23 Disinformation Chronicle Substack January 11, 2022