Scientist Peter Daszak was removed from a United Nations-backed commission investigating the origins of COVID-19 after he revealed his connections to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Daszak’s non-profit organization, EcoHealth Alliance, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to WIV to fund the study of bat-based coronaviruses similar to COVID-19. Daszak also organized a February 2020 statement in a medical journal, The Lancet, that condemned “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.” When signing the statement, he claimed that he did not have competing interests, despite his financial connections and professional relationship with WIV and its lead researcher, Shi Zhengli.
The Lancet, which is leading the commission into COVID-19, asked Daszak and the other signatories to the February letter to “re-evaluate” their conflict-of-interest disclosures. The journal acknowledged that many “questioned the validity of [Daszak’s] disclosure,” in a statement. This time, Daszak admitted that his organization receives funding from the United States government and sends that money to labs in China.
We invited the 27 authors of the letter to re-evaluate their competing interests. Peter Daszak has expanded on his disclosure statements for this letter and two other pieces relating to COVID-19 that he co-authored or contributed to in The Lancet. See https://t.co/RE0xdNuXOB. pic.twitter.com/Ao2FM3jCrp
— The Lancet (@TheLancet) June 21, 2021
Daszak’s three articles published in The Lancet now contain a lengthy disclosure statement explaining that while he “is paid solely in the form of a salary from EcoHealth Alliance,” his work on a WHO investigation into the origins of COVID-19 was “undertaken as an independent expert in a private capacity, not as an EcoHealth Alliance staff member.” (RELATED: Can The WHO’s COVID-19 Investigation Be Trusted? Some Experts Say No)
At least six other signers of The Lancet statement were employed by or received funding from EcoHealth Alliance, Vanity Fair reported.
Daszak’s profile on The Lancet Commission website now includes the tag, “recused from Commission work on the origins of the pandemic.” The site does not explain why Daszak was recused. He is the only commissioner listed on the site to be recused from the commission.
The Lancet COVID-19 Commission is organized under the umbrella of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The Network claims to “mobilize global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development.”
Republicans in Congress have also demanded information from EcoHealth Alliance about the activities they fund in China. Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Kentucky Rep. Brett Guthrie, and Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith requested information about the viruses WIV was working on within 2019 in a letter to Daszak. House Republicans have also called on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Inspector General to probe Daszak’s grants from NIH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.