Documents obtained by Judicial Watch show in greater detail than ever before how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded virus-tweaking research, including experiments that enhanced a bat coronavirus, increasing the likelihood of cross-species transmission.
The experiments that made that bat coronavirus more infectious to humans occurred at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The records validate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who journalists and Democrats had mocked for chastising Dr. Anthony Fauci at Senate hearings. Yet a NIH spokesperson claims that Dr. Fauci was “entirely truthful” during his exchanges with Sen. Paul. They argued that Fauci didn’t know about the controversial research in Wuhan when famously asked by Paul.
However, EcoHealth Alliance—which partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology—to fund that research indicated that Fauci had access to their data 15 months before Paul confronted him on national television.
Per Judicial Watch:
Judicial Watch announced today that it received 221 pages of records from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which include a grant application for research involving the coronavirus that was submitted in 2018. The grant application appears to describe “gain of function” research involving RNA extractions from bats, experiments on viruses, attempts to develop a chimeric virus and efforts to genetically manipulate the full-length bat SARSr-CoV WIV1 strain molecular clone.
Documents Include Records of Communications, Contracts and Agreements With the Wuhan Institute of Virology
The documents were obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records of communications, contracts and agreements with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The lawsuit specifically requests records about National Institute of Health (NIH) grants that benefitted the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
On January 27, 2020, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) official David Morens emailed Chief of Staff Greg Folkers in a heavily redacted thread, writing:
[S]ome background on our support of the Ecohealth group (Peter Daszak et al), which has for years been among the biggest players in coronavirus work, also in collaboration with Ralph Baric, Ian Lipkin and others. [Redacted].
NIAID has been funding Peter’s group for coronavirus work in China for the past 5 years through [grant] R011R01A|110964: “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.” That’s now been renewed, with a specific focus to identify cohorts of people highly exposed to bats in China, and work out if they’re getting sick from CoVs.… Collaborators include Wuhan Institute of Virology (currently working on the nCoV) and Ralph Baric. The results of the work to date
Discovered Swine Acute Diarrheal Syndrome Virus (SADS-CoV) killing >25,000 pigs in Guangdong Province (Published in Nature)
Found SARS-related CoVs that can bind to human cells (Published in Nature), and that cause SARS-like disease in humanized mouse models.
Also, prior to the above R01, Peter’s folks worked under an R01 with Eun-Park as Program Officer on viral discovery in bats, and originally identified SARS-CoV as having a likely origin in bats (published in Science).
Folkers forwards the message to Anthony Fauci and others.
In a “Notice of Award” dated July 13, 2020, the NIH increased the amount of NIH money going to Peter Daszak’s firm, EcoHealth Alliance, by $369,819 with a project period that runs from June 1, 2014, through June 30, 2025, for Daszak’s project “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.”
EcoHealth was to receive $637,980 in each of the years 2019 through 2024 under the grant.
Research Involving “Highly Pathogenic Agents”
The award’s writers specifically direct funds “for activity with Wuhan Institute of Virology in the amount of $76,301” and “for activity with Institute of Pathogen Biology [located in China] in the amount of $75,301.” Funds also went to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The award’s writers also indicate that research associated with the award was also being conducted at East China Normal University in China and to Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore. The specialists overseeing the award note that, “This award may include collaborations with and/or between foreign organizations.” The specialists also note that award grantees using “Highly Pathogenic Agents” “may warrant a biocontainment safety facility of BSL3 or higher.” The grantee is also required to report “Any changes in the use of the Agent(s) or Toxin(s) including its restricted experiments that have resulted in a change in the required biocontainment level, and any resultant change in location.” The NIH Grants Management Specialist overseeing the award was Shaun W. Gratton and the NIH Program Official was Erik J. Stemmy. Of the 17 “Senior/Key Personnel” assigned as researchers on the project, seven worked at Chinese institutions.
Choosing the Wuhan Lab
The site locations in an EcoHealth grant application submitted November 5, 2018, for coronavirus research included EcoHealth Alliance in New York City, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the Institute of Pathogen Biology in Beijing, China. Among the “aims” listed, the applicants write, “We will sequence receptor binding domains (spike proteins) to identify viruses with the highest potential for spillover which we will include in our experimental investigations.” In the third “aim”, they continue “We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential.”
In a description of the Wuhan lab, the writers of the application note that, “The Wuhan Institute of Virology is a World Health Organization collaborating center” and had a “long-time (>15 years) partnership with EcoHealth Alliance.”
Who Was Behind the Successful Grant Application?
In his “personal statement” in the grant application, Dr. Peter Daszak writes about his “20+ years of NIH-funded research.” Among his awards, Daszak notes he was a 1999 recipient of the CDC’s “Meritoriouos service award,” had a species of centipedes named after him (“Crytops daszaki”), as well as having a “new parasite species” named after himself (“Isospora daszaki”), and is an elected member of the Kosmos Club in Washington, DC. He also says he’s a member of the U.S. “National Institute of Medicine” which he abbreviates as “NAM.” In his “Contributions to Science,” Daszak notes, “Collaborating with virologists in China, we have isolated and characterized SARS-like CoVs from bats that use the same host cell receptor (AACE-2) as SARS-CoV.”
In a personal biography section of the above grant application, Dr. Shi Zhengli, head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, notes that one of her ongoing research projects, with a duration of January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2021, and sponsored by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, involves, “Evolution mechanism of the adation [sic] of bat SARS-related coronaviruses to host receptor molecules and the risk of interspecies infection.”
Prof. Ralph Baric of UNC-Chapel Hill also has his biographical information listed in the grant application, and this includes his participation in a 2015 workshop relating to “Trends in Synthetic Biology and Gain of Function and Regulatory Implications”, a 2015 China-US workshop involving “Challenges of Emerging Infections, Laboratory Safety, and Global Health Security,” and participation in a 2014 working group on “Risks and Benefits of Gain of Function Research.” Among Baric’s “major accomplishments” cited was a study involving “reconstruction of civet and bat CoV from in silico sequence, the first reported recovery of recombinant bat viruses, and characterization of host range phenotypes in vitro and in vivo.” Baric writes that “Several CoV infectious cDNA clones are available in the lab, including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, conventional human and model CoVs, and several bat CoVs with pandemic potential.”
“Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence”
In the “Application for Federal Assistance,” for the project “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” the costs for the first year (2019-2020) of the EcoHealth Alliance project application totaled $736,996.
The second year (2020-2021) costs total $712,441.
The third year (2021-2022) costs total $712,441.
The fourth year (2022-2023) costs total $712,441.
The fifth year (2023-2024) costs total $712,441.
However, in July 2020, HHS wrote a letter to EcoHealth Allince regarding funding:
[T]he NIH has received reports that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a subrecipient of EcoHealth Alliance under R01AI110964, has been conducting research at its facilities in China that pose serious bio-safety concerns and, as a result, create health and welfare threats to the public in China and other countries, including the United States.
In response to these bombshells, the NIH published an open letter and accompanying analysis they said would “set the record straight.” The NIH argues that speculation its research on bat coronaviruses was the catalyst for the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is baseless because the two viruses have sizable genetic differences.
But the NIH’s delay in disclosing this information has damaged its reputation. Researchers like Fauci can circle the wagons all they want, but that doesn’t mean the rising tide of questions will magically disappear.
Commenting to Vanity Fair, Gilles Demaneuf, a leading member of DRASTIC (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19), said that while he isn’t certain that COVID-19 broke loose after a research-related accident, he’s “100% sure there was a massive cover-up.”
What do you think?