Explosive, leaked papers show Wuhan scientists planned to release coronaviruses into bats just 18 months before the deadly Covid outbreak emerged.
Scientists planned to conduct risky, multimillion-dollar experiments involving bats and coronaviruses in China just 18 months before the lethal Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees, leaked documents have revealed.
The documents were released by the Decentralised Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating Covid-19 (DRASTIC), a global online team of activists investigating the virus’s origins.
The group alleged the documents were leaked anonymously by a whistleblower, with the UK Telegraph claiming a former member of the Trump administration had confirmed the proposal was authentic.
The papers show scientists from Wuhan and the US had planned to release coronavirus particles into Chinese bats in order to then vaccinate them against diseases which could be transmitted to humans, and had asked for $US14 million from the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to fund the project.
The 2018 proposal was to “synthesise spike glycoproteins which bind to human cell receptors and insert them into SARSr-CoV backbones to assess whether they can cause SARS-like disease”.
Under the proposal, scientists wanted to genetically enhance airborne coronaviruses and release aerosols containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” among cave bats in Yunnan in China, as well as alter coronaviruses to more easily infect humans by introducing “human-specific cleavage sites” to bat coronaviruses.
The idea behind the research was to discover the risks posed by coronaviruses, as well as ways of preventing outbreaks and vaccinating bats against illnesses.
It was submitted by EcoHealth Alliance’s Peter Daszak, who later joined the World Health Organisation-led team which travelled to Wuhan to investigate Covid-19.
Risky plan rejected
However, DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office did not recommend it be funded at that time because significant weaknesses were identified.
Some of those weaknesses include the fact the proposal “does not mention or assess potential risks” of Gain of Function research or Dual Use Research of Concern issues, and “thus fails to present a DURC risk mitigation plan”.
“The proposal hardly addresses or discusses ethical, legal, and social issues,” the rejection continues.
“It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk.”
According to DRASTIC, the documents show the plan was a joint project by US-based EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) in concert with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
DRASTIC states these bodies “attempted to carry out advanced and dangerous human pathogenicity bat coronavirus research that would clearly qualify as Gain of Function in a grant proposal submitted to the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2018”.
Gain of Function (GoF) research is a controversial technique used by scientists to alter the function of a virus, in order to better understand its evolution – although many believe the practice is too risky to be justified.
“Peter Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance proposed injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into humanised and ‘batified’ mice,” DRASTIC states.
“The EHA/WIV proposal (named ‘DEFUSE’) was ultimately rejected for full funding (but leaving open the door for partial funding), in part because it misinterpreted the GoF (Gain of Function) guidelines.
“In other words, a branch of the federal government had already judged aspects of EHA’s research, and the corresponding shared research plan with the WIV, as falling under the definition of GoF … These grant proposal documents also show a staggering level of deep involvement of EHA with the WIV, on matters of national interest … All the while without proper risk assessment and considerations for ethical and social issues and incorrect evaluation of what constitutes GoF research.”
Despite DARPA’s rejection of the plan, DRASTIC has questioned whether the research may have still happened, in light of the popular theory – supported by former US President Donald Trump himself – that Covid-19 took hold via a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“Given that we find in this proposal a discussion of the planned introduction of human-specific cleavage sites, a review by the wider scientific community of the plausibility of artificial insertion is warranted,” DRASTIC said.
Meanwhile, recently unearthed footage of a 2017 conference shows Dr Daszak spoke about how his “work on coronaviruses in China” was conducted with “funding through” White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health agency.
According to the National Pulse, Dr Daszak discussed the funding in his speech.
“Working with the USAID EPT PREDICT Program and funding through NIAID to work on coronaviruses in China, we were able to test out this idea of predicting what the next emerging diseases might be. So we’ve all heard of SARS. We know that SARS is carried by civets. Well, actually, the host of SARS-like viruses, the viruses that the SARS coronavirus emerged from are bats,” he reportedly said during the presentation.