Virologist who funded Wuhan lab – then tried to silence claims COVID leaked from it – shares videos of himself in Thai bat cave with 2.5 million of the animals believed to have triggered pandemic
- Virologist Dr. Peter Daszak brazenly posted videos of himself and his research team standing in the midst of swarms of bats in Thailand this week
- Daszak’s charity EcoHealth Alliance was found to have funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s research which some believe started the pandemic
- Daszak has been accused of bullying other scientists into disavowing theories that COVID-19 was leaked from a lab as a conspiracy theory
- Despite Daszak’s ties with the Wuhan lab, EcoHealth Alliance was awarded over half a million dollars this fall to conduct viral research on bats
A virologist who funded the Wuhan lab at the centre of COVID leak claims – and then allegedly tried to ‘bully’ that theory away – has proudly filmed himself inside a bat-filled cave and handling the creatures for his research.
Last week, Dr. Peter Daszak posted a video on his Twitter filmed from the depths of the Ratchaburi Cave in Thailand.
Daszak, who is from England and now lives in upstate New York, was surrounded by 2.5million of the creatures he thinks COVID-19 came from. He referred to the cave as the ‘reactor core’ of viral activity.
He shared multiple other snaps of the winged creatures – believed to harbor the pathogen that sparked the pandemic – and even uploaded a video of one being fed by hand.
Daszak was there as part of a legitimate research trip, with scientists having long-researched bat-related coronaviruses.
But his posts could well unsettle Americans who’ve just emerged from a pandemic that’s killed 1.08 million across the country – especially given his close and controversial ties to the suspected origin site. The scientist was engulfed in scandal after it was revealed in a Vanity Fair expose that his charity, EcoHealth Alliance, provided funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Gain-of-function research.
Gain of function research modifies viruses to make them more powerful in a bid to create potential treatments for future pandemics.
Despite Daszak’s ties to Wuhan Institute of Virology, in September EcoHealth Alliance was awarded a $653,392 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study Covid-like viruses in bats across Asia and Africa.
It is unclear if last week’s Thailand trip was paid for with US taxpayers’ cash.
WATCH FULL VIDEO: Peter Daszak shares videos of bat-filled caves on Thailand trip https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11527795/Virologist-funded-Wuhan-lab-shares-videos-cave-filled-2-5m-bats.html#v-4995503808550095126
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9:31 PM • Dec 9, 2022
In a series of tweets this week, Daszak posted videos of himself and other researchers surrounded by swarms of bats, and even feeding them by hand.
‘In the heart of the bat cave – deafening noise as the bats swirl around,’ he wrote alongside a video showing a column of bats pouring out of a cave.
‘It’s the sheer beauty of nature & at the same time it seems like the ‘reactor core’ of the colony given what we know about viral emergence.’
In other tweets researchers could be seen handling bats and feeding them, releasing them into the air by hand, and standing in the midst of clouds of bats as they go about their work.
In each of the videos the researchers wore full protective gear – body suits, gloves, goggles, and face masks – while their close proximity to vast numbers of the creatures was apparent.
But some were incredulous that Daszak’s organization was selected to carry out that research.
And in April, Rodgers and the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the NIH to investigate Daszak and EcoHealth under suspicions that they had left out important data while reapplying for grants, which the committee said could be tantamount to fraud.
Who IS Peter Daszak? The frog-focused zoologist and friend of Dr Anthony Fauci
The debate around the origins of Covid has been ongoing since the virus first began causing chaos in early 2020.
Some top virologists believe the coronavirus spread to humans from an infected animal, potentially in a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Others think it leaked from a secretive laboratory in the same city. Whether or not it was deliberate or accidental is an even more contentious part of the ‘lab leak’ theory.
One of the most stringent deniers of the man-made hypothesis is British zoologist Dr Peter Daszak, who is known among friends as a ‘funny northerner’ but considered a potential orchestrator of the pandemic by advocates of the lab-leak theory.
He became renowned for his role in facilitating ‘risky’ coronavirus research in China through EcoHealth Alliance, the non-profit he is president of.
The New York-based organization has secured $60million of US Government funds for scientific research over the past decade.
Some of this cash, it has emerged, has since ended up in the pocket of researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the lab at the center of lab leak claims. Some of this research involved manipulating Covid-like viruses.
Now, it has been revealed that EcoHealth Alliance has gained another $650,000 (£580,000) from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to trawl through caves in Southeast Asia looking for bats carrying coronaviruses, despite fears similar work sparked the pandemic.
The new contract gives the green light to project leader Dr Daszak and his team to analyze the behavior and environmental risk factors for coronaviruses to spillover into humans from animals.
It warns that that part of the world has a ‘high diversity of wildlife coronaviruses’ and a large proportion of the population is regularly exposed to wildlife that could be infected.
Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam are particularly high risk, according to the project details published by the US National Institutes of Health.
Over the course of five years, the team will identify cases where people become infected with coronaviruses, assess the risk and drivers of community transmission and spread and test public health interventions to contain an outbreak.
Scientists argue such research is vital to contain diseases like Covid. But others have raised alarm over its potential involvement in outbreaks.
The latest contract puts the spotlight back on Dr Daszak, who hails from the mining town Dukinfield, on the outskirts of Manchester.
The researcher, who grew up with a younger brother, Ukrainian father and Welsh mother, studied zoology at the University of Bangor in Wales and the University of East London.
The expert in zoonosis — the spread of viruses from animals to humans — has authored more than 300 scientific papers over his career, which has spanned more than three decades, and seen him become friendly with Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the US President.
Dr Daszak, who lives in New York with his wife Janet, joined EcoHealth — formerly The Wildlife Trust — in 2001. His early career focused on diseases spread by frogs.
But he has also worked with researchers in China for 15 years, including Dr Shi Zhengli, a virologist at the WIV nicknamed ‘Bat Woman’.
EcoHealth, which originally focused on conservation, now works around the world to find out the origins of viruses, map where they have spread and analyze them to find out where the next outbreak could occur.
Records show Dr Daszak raked in millions of dollars’ worth of grants from US Government bodies on behalf of EcoHealth alliance and was paid $354,000 (£314,000) in 2019.
This funding was often dished out to other laboratories, including the WIV, to conduct research in mines to examine bat coronaviruses.
The partnership saw researchers sample thousands of bats and determine that Sars originated in horseshoe bats, which are common in southern and central China and traded in wet markets.
And two years before Covid emerged, Dr Daszak proposed working with WIV scientists to alter coronaviruses and release them into bats as part of a plan to inoculate them against the virus.