Biden Officials Appeared At Conference Endorsing ‘Natural Origin’ Of COVID

(Photo by AMELIE BOTTOLLIER-DEPOIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Several high-level officials within the Biden administration appeared last week at the Global Health Council’s Global Health Landscape Symposium, at which panelists promoted the idea that “science” supports a natural origin for COVID-19.

Officials from the Department of State, the Treasury Department and the National Security Council all appeared at the event, according to the GHC’s website and its own live-tweeting of the proceedings.

Jim Levy, a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department appeared on a panel called “Preventing Pandemics at the Source.” In his remarks, he pushed the zoonotic theory of COVID-19’s origin, which posits that the virus naturally migrated from animals to humans and did not escape from a lab.

Levy, who serves as the deputy assistant secretary for space, science and health and director of the Office of International Health and Biodefense at the Department of State, discussed the “reasons for zoonotic spillover” on the panel, which included land use practices, wildlife trade and livestock production. One of his co-panelists was Dr. Jonathan Epstein, vice president for science and outreach at EcoHealth Alliance.

EcoHealth Alliance is a New York-based nonprofit organization that funneled taxpayer grant money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology over the course of years to fund gain-of-function research. Proponents of the lab-leak theory have criticized this funding and linked it to a potential lab-leak of COVID-19, and have called for gain-of-function research to be halted due to the threat it poses to human life. Gain-of-function research involves scientifically modifying pathogens to make them more dangerous to humans.

The “Preventing Pandemics at the Source” panel, subtitled “Win-Win Strategies for People and the Planet,” also included Dr. Nigel Sizer, executive director of Preventing Pandemics at the Source; Dr. Neil Vora, pandemic prevention fellow at Conservation International; and Ashley Arabasadi, senior director for global health R&D advocacy at Research America.

“Important new science strongly supports zoonotic origins for COVID-19,” the session’s description on the GHC website reads. “This session will bring together leaders from the public health, animal health and environmental sectors to highlight practical actions that we can take to reduce the risk of spillover and discuss the critical importance of One Health for pandemic prevention.”

GHC did not clarify what “important new science” it was referring to, but a number of experts disagree with that assessment and believe COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, located just blocks from the wet market where the pandemic initially broke out. (RELATED: Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Most Likely’ Originated In Wuhan Lab, Covered Up By CCP, According To New Senate Report)

In October, a Senate report concluded that the virus “most likely” originated in and escaped from the Wuhan lab.

Other Biden administration officials who appeared at the symposium include Mary Beth Goodman, coordinator of global COVID-19 response and health security at the State Department; Eric Meyer, deputy assistant secretary for Africa and the Middle East at the Treasury Department; Dr. Raj Panjabi, special assistant to the President on the National Security Council; Dr. Kip Baggett of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. Stephanie Psaki, director for global health response on the National Security Council; Dr. Ashim Subedee of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Dr. Mai Hijazi, director of the Office of Health Systems at the Bureau for Global Health at USAID and Mike Ruffner, deputy U.S. global AIDS coordinator at the State Department.