Health

Danielle Anderson, ‘Expert’ Who Helped ‘Fact-Check’ Lab-Leak Theory, Was Secretly Part Of Dangerous Coronavirus Research

(Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
Font Size:

Danielle Anderson, a virologist often cited as a “biosafety expert” by journalists seeking to debunk the lab-leak theory, never disclosed she had worked on dangerous coronavirus research while fact-checking COVID-19 origin theories, resurfaced documents reveal.

Anderson played a key role in suppressing a New York Post story which posited that COVID-19 may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China, published in Feb. 2020, according to The Disinformation Chronicle. While she conducted that, and other, work, she failed to disclose she was involved in a grant for manipulating coronaviruses from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance.

A 2020 grant awarded to Daszak and EcoHealth, a group which funneled NIH money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to conduct gain-of-function (GOF) research, lists Anderson as a researcher. The Chinese Academy of Sciences is listed as another funding source for Anderson — an institution directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), according to The Disinformation Chronicle.

Anderson was also listed on a 2018 grant application by Daszak to DARPA, which proposed creating and studying genetically altered coronaviruses. DARPA denied the application, stating Daszak would need a GOF “risk-mitigation plan.”

A number of journalists have run profiles of Anderson and consulted her on the lab leak theory without disclosing these blatant conflicts of interest. The suppression of the New York Post story began after Anderson conducted a fact-check for Health Feedback. The Post’s piece suggested the pandemic may have emerged from the WIV, which Anderson called “appalling” and “infuriating.”

She flaunted the fact that she had worked on projects with the WIV, and later went on to make a name for herself as the “last foreign scientist in Wuhan.” She was highlighted on this basis by both Bloomberg and Nature Magazine — neither of which disclosed the Daszak-linked grants.

In the Bloomberg piece, Anderson defended the WIV with vigor, insisting it was just the same as any other research lab and that nothing nefarious happened there. The Nature article emphasized the online harassment she claims to have faced, and went on to win a journalism award. (RELATED: Renowned Molecular Biologist Accuses Fauci Of Lying To Congress About Gain-Of-Function Research)

Many of the arguments made by Anderson against the lab-leak theory were subsequently debunked. She retracted her own pre-print paper arguing that COVID-19 had emerged from contaminated frozen foods shortly after publication.

Anderson’s downplaying of the WIV’s connection to the CCP and Chinese military was also undermined by a State Department background memo made public earlier in 2022 which claimed the lab worked on numerous secret research projects with the People’s Liberation Army.

Still, the narrative of Anderson as an unbiased expert persisted. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, she’s a “conspiracy-buster,” and Bloomberg touted its profile of her as one of its “best reads” of 2021.