More than 900 pages relating to data indicating that the coronavirus was developed through US-funded investigations in China were released following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit imposed by The Intercept newspaper.
The recently released documents provide details of US-funded investigations into various types of coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. The Intercept newspaper obtained more than 900 pages of documents, which evidence the work of the EcoHealth Alliance, a health organization based in the United States, which used US state money to fund the investigation of coronavirus in bats in the Chinese laboratory.
Among the documents released following the Freedom of Information Act process, imposed by the newspaper The Intercept, against the National Institute of Health (NIH) – which had documents never released in its possession – are two funding proposals made by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), directed by Anthony Fauci and owned by the NIH, as well as project updates related to an EcoHealth Alliance investigation, which has been scrutinized due to growing interest in the origins of the pandemic.
One of the grants, titled “Understanding the Emergency Risk of Bat Coronaviruses” describes an ambitious effort led by EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak to screen thousands of bat samples for new coronaviruses. The documents contain several critical details about the study in Wuhan, including the fact that the experimental work with humanized rats (rats with cells identical to those of humans) was conducted in a level 3 biological safety laboratory – corresponds to clinical, diagnostic laboratories, teaching, and research, or production facilities, where work is carried out with highly pathogenic agents that can cause serious or potentially lethal diseases – at the Wuhan University Center for Animals Experiment and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed. Such evidence may support the theory that the pandemic may have started in a laboratory accident.
“This is a map of the high-risk research that may have led to the current pandemic,” Gary Ruskin, executive director of US Right To Know, a group investigating the pandemic’s origins, told The Intercept.
The grant funding provided the EcoHealth Alliance with more than 2.5 million euros, of which about 500,000 euros was used by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in part, to identify and alter bat coronaviruses capable of infecting humans.
Even before the onset of the pandemic, many scientists were concerned about the potential dangers associated with this type of developed experiment, and it can be read in the funding proposal that “fieldwork involves the greatest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, to work in caves with high bat density and potential inhaling fecal dust”.
According to Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, USA, the documents contain critical information about the investigations carried out in Wuhan, including the creation of new viruses. “The viruses they created/built were tested for their ability to infect mice designed to display human-like cells,” he told The Intercept newspaper.
The documents make it clear that two different types of new coronaviruses were able to infect mice. “While they were working on the SARS-related coronavirus, they were doing a parallel project at the same time on the MERS-related coronavirus,” Ebright said, referring to the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
The financial grant was initially awarded for a period of five years, from 2014 to 2019, being renewed in 2019, until Trump suspended it in April 2020 (about four months after the first Covid-19 cases emerged).
Many scientists believe the pandemic came about naturally, but in recent months some investigators have called for a more detailed investigation into the pandemic’s origins, just as Joe Biden in May ordered the secret services to look into the case. On Aug. 27, Biden announced that the inquiry was inconclusive.
Such findings have generated disputes among Republicans, who have called for Anthony Fauci’s resignation from his position in the White House, as he denied that his Institute funded dangerous “gain of function” research, that is, that they wanted to develop a capable new coronavirus. of infecting humans, while others call for further investigation into Fauci’s relationship to research carried out in the Chinese laboratory.
Senator Rand Paul, who repeatedly argued with Fauci during the pandemic, praised the release of the documents on Twitter, saying the materials “make it very clear that [Fauci] needs to be held accountable.” During a confrontation between the two in May, Fauci had claimed that the “[National Institute of Health] has never, not now, funded research into function gain at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”