Peter Daszak is removed from COVID commission following bombshell conflict-of-interest report that exposed his ties to Wuhan Institute of Virology after he organized letter denouncing lab leak claim
- The British scientist’s profile on commission website now shows him as recused
- Daszak is president of New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, a medical nonprofit
- He has for years been a strong supporter of the work of the Wuhan laboratory
- Anthony Fauci’s institute gave grants to EcoHealth to support Wuhan work
- Daszak’s passionate defense of the Wuhan lab’s work has raised eyebrows
- He said the idea that COVID-19 could have escaped from the lab was conspiracy
- Daszak insisted live bats were not kept at Wuhan, but now admits they may
- He is increasingly seen as a compromised figure without scientific objectivity
British scientist Peter Daszak has been removed from the COVID commission looking at the origins of the pandemic after significant questions were raised about his scientific impartiality.
Daszak, president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, was one of 28 experts from around the world asked to analyze how best to respond to the pandemic.
The panel comprised leading global figures in public health, economics, philanthropy, diplomacy and politics.
On Monday, his profile was updated to include the note: ‘recused from Commission work on the origins of the pandemic’.
On Monday the COVID commission updated their website to show that Daszak was recused
Daszak’s presence on a number of bodies investigating the origins of COVID has proved controversial because he has links to the Wuhan Institute and its chief researcher Dr Shi Zhengli – dubbed ‘Batwoman’.
The conservation charity of which Daszak is the director, EcoHealth Alliance, has funneled money into the lab and research being done by Dr Zhengli.
The Ukrainian-born British zoologist was also an early voice denouncing ‘lab leak’ theories as ‘conspiracies’ in an open letter published in The Lancet last February – a reaction that has been likened to a cover-up.
Earlier this month one of the original authors of the controversial Lancet letter said he had changed his stance on whether the lab leak was possible.
Dr Peter Palese, a microbiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, signed the letter in the Lancet in February last year claiming the virus could only have been natural in origin and to suggest otherwise would create ‘fear, rumors, and prejudice’.
The ‘bullying’ letter, orchestrated by Daszak was criticized by experts for ostracizing anyone offering different opinions on the virus’ origins, dismissing them as conspiracy theorists.
It is only now, nearly 16 months after that letter was published in the world-renowned medical journal, that the theory COVID was accidentally leaked from a lab in Wuhan is being looked at seriously.
President Joe Biden ordered intelligence agencies to launch a probe into whether COVID was man-made after all. But China immediately hit back and called the suggestion a ‘conspiracy’.
Professor Palese, 77, made a significant U-turn, admitting all theories on how COVID came about now need proper investigating.
He told MailOnline: ‘I believe a thorough investigation about the origin of the Covid-19 virus is needed.
‘A lot of disturbing information has surfaced since the Lancet letter I signed, so I want to see answers covering all questions.’
Asked how he was originally approached to sign the letter and what new information had come to light specifically, Professor Palese declined to comment.
Professor Palese spoke out as America’s leading pandemic expert Anthony Fauci continued to face fevered calls to resign after emails revealed that leading virus experts warned COVID could be man-made – even as he downplayed the possibility.
The emails also showed he communicated with Daszak.
Biden threw his support behind the embattled expert, saying: ‘Yes I’m very confident in Dr Fauci.’
Another scientist who signed the letter, Dr Jeremy Farrar – director of the Wellcome Trust in London – declined to comment on the Fauci allegations but said it remains ‘most likely’ the virus came from an animal but ‘there are other possibilities which cannot be completely ruled out and retaining an open mind is critical’.
Nevertheless, Daszak has remained staunch in his opinion that COVID originated in animals – most likely a bat – and then passed through an intermediary into people.
The WHO report that he helped to author described this as the ‘most likely’ source of the pandemic and called for further investigation into it.
Suggestions that the virus leaked from any of the labs in Wuhan – including the Institute of Virology – were dismissed as ‘extremely unlikely’.