This included plans to make more infectious versions of Mers – the extremely deadly virus which has a fatality rate of nearly 33 percent.
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The debate over the origins of the novel coronavirus, which has now killed over 4.7 million mostly elderly and immunocompromised people and caused untold economic suffering worldwide, continues, with China and the United States engaged in high-stakes information campaign to convince the world that the other country is responsible.
In 2018, Peter Daszak, the British-born zoologist and president of the EcoHealth Alliance, the US organization known for funneling millions of dollars in US National Institutes of Health funding into risky research at the Wuhan lab, submitted a funding request to DARPA – the Pentagon’s top-secret military research agency, to deliberately release genetically modified coronavirus particles into wild Chinese bat populations, leaked grant proposal papers suggest.
The $14.2 million funding request, published by DRASTIC Research, a loose collection of independent scientists investigating Covid-19’s origins, is said to have sought the cash to create airborne, skin-penetrating coronavirus particles and spread them into bat caves in China’s Yunnan province, ostensibly to inoculate the animals against illnesses that could jump to human beings.
The complex nano-particles were said to contain “novel chimeric spike proteins.” Situated on the outside of the coronavirus, the spike protein the means by which SARS-CoV-2 enters human cells.
The funding request was made some 18 months before the appearance of the first cases of Covid-19 in China’s Hubei province, with that outbreak eventually growing into a global pandemic.
The leaked papers further allege that the DARPA funding request included a proposal to create genetically-enhanced chimeric viruses that could infect human beings more easily by genetically manipulating bat coronaviruses to introduce “human-specific cleavage sites,” thereby making it easier for a virus to enter human cells. The scientific justification for such research is unclear.
Furthermore, the request was also said to have proposed genetically mixing components of natural coronaviruses with the potential to cause serious complications with milder but more infections strains. This included plans to make more infectious versions of Mers – the extremely deadly virus which has a fatality rate of nearly 33 percent. The reasons as to why Daszack proposed this potentially dangerous research are again unclear.
EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology have not commented on DRASTIC’s document dump. However, an unnamed former Trump administration official told The Telegraph that the leaked papers are genuine.
Among the leaked papers is a two-page response by DARPA rejecting Daszak’s research proposal. The reply said noted that “if funding became available,” and certain dual-use related risks were mitigated, “certain components of particular interest could have gone ahead.”
However, DARPA said that in the proposal’s then-current form, “it is clear that the proposed DEFUSE project [the proposed project’s formal name] led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk by failing to consider” issues including gain of function, “dual use research of concern,” vaccine epitope coverage, regulatory requirements and various ethical, legal and social issues.
Angus Dalgleish, a British professor and oncologist at St. George’s Hospital Medical School in London who has spent over a year investigating the Wuhan Covid lab leak theory, told The Telegraph that Daszak and his colleagues at Wuhan may have proceeded with the research despite DARPA’s refusal to fund it.
“This is clearly a gain of function, engineering the cleavage site and polishing the new viruses to enhance human cell infectibility in more than one cell line,” Dalgleish said of the documents.
An unnamed Covid researcher from the World Health Organization said they found the proposal to create a chimeric Mers virus particularly “scary,” given the virus’s deadliness compared to Sars-CoV-2. “If one of their receptor replacements made Mers spread similarly [to Sars-CoV-2] while maintaining its lethality, this pandemic would be nearly apocalyptic,” the WHO researcher warned.
EcoHealth Alliance, Daszak, and Anthony Fauci
The possible role of Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance in funding potentially dangerous coronavirus bat research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology using US government money became the subject of congressional scrutiny this summer, when Kentucky Senator Rand Paul grilled White House chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci over his alleged role in approving such funding after it was banned in the US. Fauci has denied any wrongdoing, and in a briefing earlier this month, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki assured reporters that his job was safe amid allegations that he lied to Congress in his testimony.
Psaki’s comments followed the publication of a new investigation by The Intercept which found that EcoHealth had been funding potentially dangerous pathogen research at Wuhan since 2014, with research reported to be continuing to this day.
Sars-CoV-2’s origins continue to be hotly debated, with some scientists continuing to maintain that the virus emerged naturally, while others allege that it may have come about as a result of genetic manipulations by scientists. The issue was almost immediately politicized in 2020 when then-President Donald Trump and other members of his administration began alleging that China was responsible for the global pandemic, pointing to the fact that the virus was first discovered in the same city where the Wuhan Institute of Virology is situated. Beijing has responded by alleging that the US military may have brought the virus to Wuhan during the 2019 World Army Games, and has gone on to demand a formal investigation by the WHO of Fort Detrick – the US military’s pathogen research lab which mysteriously closed down for a brief period in the summer of 2019, after which Covid-like symptoms were reported in communities surrounding the facility. Earlier this month, the US intelligence community submitted a report to President Biden following a months-long probe into the virus’s origins, finding that there was no conclusive evidence to show one way or the other whether it originated in nature or a lab.