British scientist Peter Daszak has been expelled from the COVID panel investigating the origins of the pandemic after helping to secretly refute the laboratory leak theory without mentioning his close ties to the same institution.
His website posted a message about the departure of the controversial scientist from the UN-backed Lancet commission into the origin of the virus.
He added a sentence in brackets below his photograph and above his biography, which stated that he was “withdrawn from the Commission’s work to clarify the origin of the pandemic.”
No further information has been provided about Dashak’s departure, but he has faced statements of conflict of interest after his close ties with the Wuhan Institute of Virology were revealed last month.
Peter Daszak, 55, 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 includes the world’s leading figures in healthcare, economics, philanthropy, diplomacy and politics.
It is organized by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which, according to its website, “operates under the auspices of the United Nations to mobilize scientific and technical knowledge in support of the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Daszak’s presence in a number of bodies investigating the origins of COVID has proven controversial as he is associated with the Wuhan Institute and its principal investigator, Dr. Shi Zhengli, who is referred to as the “female bat.”
He helped organize a letter published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, which was signed by 27 scientists, including Dashak himself, and denounced the allegation of the laboratory leak as “conspiracy theory” and “unscientific.”
Since then, Daszak has faced conflicts of interest allegations due to his connections with lab researchers, who increasingly believe COVID may have leaked.
Proponents of the theory believe the virus originated in the same Chinese city where one of three laboratories in the world studying bat coronaviruses is located, with the other two based in the United States.
EcoHealth Alliance charitable organization, of which Dashak is the director, donated money to the laboratory and to research conducted by Dr. Zhengli.
Donald Trump was one of the first to point the finger at a laboratory in Wuhan as the source of the outbreak, but his proposal was initially rejected as a conspiracy theory and an attempt to distract from his own solution to the pandemic.
Peter Daszak, a Ukrainian-born British zoologist, was one of the first to call the “laboratory leak” theories “conspiracies” in an open letter published in The Lancet last February – a reaction that can be compared to a cover-up.
At the time, they wrote: “Together, we strongly condemn conspiracy theories that suggest that COVID-19 is not of natural origin.
“Conspiracy theories only breed fear, rumors and prejudice that threaten our global cooperation against this virus.”
Lindsay Graham, a Republican Senator from South Carolina, said earlier this month that the Lancet letter was a shame.
“Scientists are associated with this lab,” Graham said.
“They covered their ass. They released a letter not based on science, but a political document, trying to exterminate people, assuming it came from a laboratory.
“Why is it important? If Trump was right about the laboratory leak, it would change the public’s perception of Trump in relation to the coronavirus.
“More importantly, if the virus came out of the laboratory in China, he was right, it was a Chinese virus, and the 2020 election would be about who can hold China accountable, Trump or Biden.”
When DailyMail.com contacted The Lancet editor Dr. Richard Horton about the decision to publish and support the letter, neither he nor his office declined to comment.
Earlier this month, one of the original writers of the controversial letter to the Lancet said he had changed his stance on a possible leak in the lab.
Dr. Peter Palese, a microbiologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, signed a letter to the Lancet last February claiming the virus could only be natural in origin and suggesting that it would otherwise trigger “ fear, rumor. ” … and prejudice. ”
Dashak’s “intimidating” letter has been criticized by experts for ostracizing anyone with differing opinions about the virus’s origins and rejecting them as conspiracy theorists.
It is only now, almost 16 months after this letter was published in a world-renowned medical journal, that the COVID theory that accidentally leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan is being seriously studied.
President Joe Biden has ordered intelligence agencies to begin investigating whether COVID was man-made. But China responded immediately and called the proposal a “conspiracy.”
Professor Palese, 77, has taken a significant turn by admitting that all theories about how COVID originated now need to be scrutinized.
He told MailOnline: “I believe there is a need for a thorough investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 virus.
“After the letter I signed to the Lancet, there was a lot of disturbing information, so I want to see the answers to all questions.”
When asked how he was initially approached to sign the letter and what specific new information became known, Professor Palese declined to comment.
Professor Palese said leading US pandemic expert Anthony Fauci continued to face feverish calls to resign after emails revealed that leading virus experts had warned that COVID could be man-made, even though he downplayed the likelihood. this.
The letters also showed that he communicated with Dashak.
Biden echoed the dismayed expert, saying, “Yes, I am 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 Fauci’s accusations, but said it was “most likely” the virus originated from an animal, but “there are other possibilities that cannot be fully explained. are excluded, and it is imperative to remain impartial. ”
However, Dashak remained steadfast in his belief that COVID originated in animals – most likely from bats – and then transmitted to humans through intermediaries.
Dashak was part of a group of scientists who traveled to a Wuhan lab in late January on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) to find out how the virus originated. The visit was documented in 60 minutes.
The WHO post, in which he assisted the author, describes animals as the “most likely” source of the pandemic and calls for further investigation into the phenomenon.
Suggestions that the virus had leaked from any of the Wuhan laboratories, including the Institute of Virology, were dismissed as “highly unlikely.”
However, later it turned out that the WHO team was given only three hours in the laboratory and not given access to all the necessary documentation, which further darkens the cloud of suspicions about the “whitewash”.
In April, the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Trade sent 34 questions to Dashak about his participation in the laboratory.
Despite the May 17 deadline, Dashak did not respond, a source close to the committee told DailyMail.com.
Questions related to his charitable organization, its federal funding that went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China, and the work of an American non-profit organization with a Chinese laboratory.
Dashak, who made more than $ 410,000 last year, lives with his immunologist wife Janet Cottingham in a five-bed, five-bathroom home in a wealthy town in Rockland County, New York, 30 miles northwest of Manhattan. … In 2015, they bought a two-acre home for $ 665,000. It is now valued at about $ 1 million.
Instead of responding to accusations that he “intimidated” other scientists into signing The Lancet’s letter, and that his connections with the lab created such a conflict of interest that he should never have sat in two groups investigating the cause of COVID – 19 – he told a DailyMail.com reporter, “You need to get your car out of our driveway right now, leave the area and never come back.”
“Goodbye, I have no comment,” he added.
A few minutes later, dressed in a blue polo shirt, shorts and sandals, he walked out onto the porch of the house overlooking the Ramapo Mountains, sat down and began waving his arms in obvious anger while he had a lively conversation on the phone.
Soon three police cars drove up to his house.
A Republican minority group on the committee launched an investigation into the origins of Covid-19 in March after a growing number of prominent scientists began to express concern that the deadly virus may have escaped the laboratory – or even created there.
Dashak and other EcoHealth scientists have worked closely with the Wuhan laboratory for many years, which also conducted functionality-enhancing experiments in which viruses were genetically modified to be more infectious in order to test their effect on human cells.
In a letter dated April 16, a congressional committee asked Dashak for details on what federal funds were donated to WIV, what information they have about bat viruses that have worked in laboratories that are closely associated with Covid-19, and that his charity the organization is aware of a mysterious viral genome database stored in a laboratory that was shut down in 2019.
“Complete silence. They seem to refuse to acknowledge anything from us, ”the source said.
“At least when we send a letter to a government agency, we get a message like ‘we received your letter, we are working on it.’ But from Eco? Postcode.
“We would like them to cooperate with us and give us answers. We’re not going to go out of our way to burn them. We just need answers to some of these questions.
“This is a group that is associated with WIV and will have a lot of such answers, I hope this helps. But they generally refuse to participate in this. “