Did EcoHealth’s Peter Daszak perjure himself before Congress? Will there be consequences?

by WorldTribune Staff, May 3, 2024

EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak in long-awaited testimony before Congress on May 1 denied that his organization’s partnership with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the Chinese lab where Covid likely originated, included dangerous gain-of-function research.

Ohio Republican Rep. Brad Westrum, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, announced the findings of a report evaluating EcoHealth’s research activities, which was issued earlier in the day. The interim report states that EcoHealth failed to disclose high-risk, gain-of-function research that it conducted in partnership with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Peter Daszak testifies before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on May 1. / Video Image

Furthermore, the report recommends that EcoHealth Alliance should be barred from receiving future federal funds and criminally investigated.

During his closed-door transcribed interview with several House committees on Nov. 14, 2023, Daszak “made multiple statements inconsistent with documents and evidence reviewed by the committees. This raises serious questions about the veracity of EcoHealth’s public statements, including its insistence that the research it funded at the WIV could not have caused the pandemic,” the committees said.

The committee chairs called on Daszak to address the discrepancies in his testimony and publicly explain EcoHealth’s relationship with the WIV. He got that opportunity on May 1.

Daszak disagreed that the research met the definition of gain-of-function. To fall under that category, he said, an experiment would need to be likely to increase a virus’s transmission or pathogenicity, and the virus would already have to be known to infect humans. “Because the work we were doing was on bat coronaviruses, it was not covered by those rules,” Daszak said, referring to a definition used by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to evaluate grants involving research with pathogens.

Wenstrup, who said that the researcher had been “less than cooperative”, suggested that Daszak was using semantics to obscure the definition of gain-of-function research, which is more generally used to describe experiments that confer new abilities to pathogens.

But Daszak’s testimony is contradicted by previous testimony given by Dr. Ralph Baric, one of the world’s leading coronavirologists who kicked off the experiments in his lab at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and collaborated with EcoHealth ALliance. Baric told panel members in a Jan. 22 interview that the work “absolutely” constituted gain-of-function research.

In a 2015 research paper, Baric and Shi Zhengli, the top coronavirus researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, also flagged that the artificial virus, or chimera, could infect human cells and “scientific review panels may deem similar studies … too risky to pursue.”

Baric’s testimony, which was first reported by Vanity Fair, also revealed that the coronavirologist urged Zhengli to conduct experiments in a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) lab, rather than the lower levels at which it was being conducted.

But Zhengli declined to upgrade the Wuhan lab from BSL-2 conditions, prompting Baric to tell congressional investigators of a potential lab accident: “You can’t rule that out … You just can’t.”

In an email obtained by the Covid subcommittee, Baric had also privately told Daszak it was “a load of BS” to maintain the SARS-like experiments were undertaken with sufficient safety measures.

The hearing culminated with a recommendation of cirminal prosecution by the Republican majority on the subcommittee.

(The subcommittee hearing in its entirety can be viewed here.)

Anthony Fauci, whose federal agency funded the EcoHealth Alliance/Wuhan Institute of Virology research, will testify before the subcommittee on June 3.

Armageddon Prose noted: “Not being naïve to how this all works, I’ll hold out any definitive hope that anything in the way of justice will come of this, given how compromised the feckless GOP is and how downright criminally complicit the Democrat Party is in the context of the greatest, yet-unpunished criminal conspiracy in world history.”

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