A World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 investigator tried to hide his involvement in organizing a pro-China statement to condemn the “lab-leak theory” as a “conspiracy theory,” a newly revealed email shows.
Dr. Peter Daszak, a British-American zoologist on the WHO team investigating the origins of COVID-19 in China, helped rally scientists to sign a statement in Feb. 2020 that condemned “conspiracy theories” that the virus had originated in a Chinese lab. Daszak, who helped funnel U.S. government money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for years leading up to the pandemic, deliberately tried to conceal the extent of his involvement with the statement, according to a newly revealed email from investigative group U.S. Right To Know.
In the email, Daszak tells University of North Carolina (UNC) researcher Dr. Ralph Baric that they should not sign the statement condemning the lab-leak theory so that it seems more independent and credible. “You, me and him should not sign this statement, so it has some distance from us and therefore doesn’t work in a counterproductive way,” Daszak wrote. (RELATED: Did Coronavirus Come From A Lab? Ten Key Takeaways From A Shocking New Report)
“We’ll then put it out in a way that doesn’t link it back to our collaboration so we maximize an independent voice,” he added. Baric, a leading epidemiologist at UNC, agreed. “Otherwise it looks self-serving and we lose impact,” he wrote back.
The statement, signed by 27 “leading scientists,” says the signees “stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.” It also specifically lauds the efforts of Chinese scientists, stating, “we sign this statement in solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China who continue to save lives and protect global health.”
Daszak, who ultimately did sign the letter but did not fully reveal the extent to which he helped organize its publication, later admitted he did so to help protect Chinese scientists from criticism. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Cotton Slams World Health Org ‘Chinese Communist Stooges’ In Renewed Call For Independent Investigation Of Wuhan Labs)
Daszak has been under fire for some time due to a number of conflicts of interest that appear to compromise his ability to participate in an impartial investigation for the WHO. He runs the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, which helped secure grant money from the National Institutes of Health for the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) between 2014 and 2020.
The WIV, located near the first major outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, is the site of China’s only level-4 security bioresearch facility. It is home to Dr. Shi Zhengli, China’s foremost expert on bat-based coronaviruses. (RELATED: Can The WHO’s COVID-19 Investigation Be Trusted? Some Experts Say No)
Well now this????. @JoeBiden has to look tough on China. Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects. Happy to help WH w/ their quest to verify, but don’t forget it’s “TRUST” then “VERIFY”! https://t.co/ukaNAkDfEG
— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) February 10, 2021
He also described how easy it is to manipulate bat-based coronaviruses in a lab setting just weeks before the initial outbreak of coronavirus during an interview. Recently, after the WHO initially ruled that it was “extremely unlikely” that COVID-19 originated in a lab, Daszak implored the public to dismiss American intelligence that suggested China was hiding information. “Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects,” Daszak tweeted.
After that initial ruling, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus backtracked to clarify that nothing had been definitively ruled out and that the lab-leak hypothesis could still be explored along with any other possible origins. The same week, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that China allegedly hid some critical information from WHO investigators. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said over the weekend that the Biden administration has “deep concerns” about the WHO investigation.