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Virologist who funded Wuhan lab shares videos of himself in cave filled with 2.5m bats

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A virologist who funded the Wuhan lab at the center 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.

The lab is now widely-believed to have created and negligently released SARS-CoV-2.

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.  

A bat is fed by researchers in one of Peter Daszak's videos posted from Thailand this week

A bat is fed by researchers in one of Peter Daszak’s videos posted from Thailand this week

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

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

Dr. Peter Daszak stands alongside Anthony Fauci, who helped him secure funding to conduct research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology

Dr. Peter Daszak stands alongside Anthony Fauci, who helped him secure funding to conduct research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology

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.

The NIH grant was given to EcoAlliance Health to conduct its research over the course of five years and investigate ‘the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence.’

But some were incredulous that Daszak’s organization was selected to carry out that research.

‘Giving taxpayer money to EcoHealth to study pandemic prevention is like paying a suspected arsonist to conduct fire safety inspections.’ Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, told DailyMail.com.

EcoHealth Alliance has received federal funding since 2002, including a grant provided by Anthony Fauci by way of the NIH for gain-of-function viral research that it carried out with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Dr. Andrew Huff, the former vice president of EcoHealth Alliance, said he believes it was that research which lead to the coronavirus strain which sparked the pandemic.

Dr. Peter Daszuk's EcoHealth Alliance has received federal funding since 2002

Dr. Peter Daszuk’s EcoHealth Alliance has received federal funding since 2002

Dr. Peter Daszak appears on an episode of sixty minutes at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2020

Dr. Peter Daszak appears on an episode of sixty minutes at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2020

Peter Daszak's (above) EcoHealth Alliance received a $653,392 grant to analyze 'the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam'

Peter Daszak’s (above) EcoHealth Alliance received a $653,392 grant to analyze ‘the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam’

Gain-of-function work sees viruses accelerated to more easily infect humans to help researchers test scientific theories, develop new technologies and find treatments for infectious diseases. 

The risky research method can pose safety and security concerns – and is banned in many countries.

Huff claimed that the virus would never occur in nature and had been developed into a much more powerful pathogen in the lab during EcoHealth Alliance’s work with the Wuhan lab.

‘EcoHealth Alliance developed SARS-CoV-2 and was responsible for the development of the agent SARS-CoV-2 during my employment at the organization,’ he said.

Huff alleges the US were using the project to assess the bioweapon capabilities of foreign labs - including the Wuhan Institute of Virology

Huff alleges the US were using the project to assess the bioweapon capabilities of foreign labs – including the Wuhan Institute of Virology

Huff points to China's gain-of-function (GOF) experiments, which he believes were carried out within relaxed biosecurity environments and led to the leak at the US-funded Wuhan Institute of Virology

Huff points to China’s gain-of-function (GOF) experiments, which he believes were carried out within relaxed biosecurity environments and led to the leak at the US-funded Wuhan Institute of Virology

Daszak, however, has fought lab-leak COVID-19 lab leak theories with such virulence that he’s be accused of ‘thuggery.’

At the very start of the Pandemic in February, 2020, Daszak persuaded more than two dozen other scientists to sign off on a letter he had written to highly respected medical journal The Lancet that strongly condemned ‘conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.’

Because of Daszak’s letter, those who believed there was a chance the virus escaped from the WIV were largely cast aside as fringe thinkers in the earliest days of speculation about the virus.

Many found themselves censored by social media giants including Twitter and Facebook, and were often dismissed as racist.  

But a former high-level Clinton administration staffer, Jamie Metzl, who has sat on the World Health Organization’s advisory committee on human genome editing, told DailyMail.com in 2021 that the Lancet letter ‘was scientific propaganda and a form of thuggery and intimidation.’

Daszak called the police when DailyMail.com reporters visited his home in 2021

Daszak called the police when DailyMail.com reporters visited his home in 2021

Wearing a blue polo shirt, shorts and sandals, he went on to the porch of the house overlooking the Ramapo Mountains, sat down and started waving his arms around in apparent anger as he had an animated conversation on his phone

Wearing a blue polo shirt, shorts and sandals, he went on to the porch of the house overlooking the Ramapo Mountains, sat down and started waving his arms around in apparent anger as he had an animated conversation on his phone

In April of 2021, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent Daszak 34 questions about his involvement with the Wuhan lab.

Daszak was given until the following month to respond, but a source close to the committee told DailyMail.com at the time that it had heard nothing from neither him nor EcoHealth Alliance.

‘Total silence. They seem to be refusing to acknowledge anything from us,’ the source said. ‘At least when we send a letter to a government agency we get a ‘we got your letter, we’re working on it’ kind of thing. But from Eco? Zip.

‘We would like them to cooperate with us and give us answers. We’re not going out of our way to try to burn them. We just want answers on some of this stuff. They’re the group that’s been tied in with the WIV, and would have a lot of these answers, hopefully that would help out. But they refuse to be involved in that at all.’

It remains unclear whether Daszak ever responded to those investigations, but he has been dogged by calls for further investigations ever since.

As recently as October of this year, Republican Leader of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers expressed outrage that the charity received further federal funding this year.

‘EcoHealth Alliance and Peter Daszak should not be getting a dime of taxpayer funds until they are completely transparent. Period. This is madness,’ she said. 

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

One of the most stringent deniers of the man-made hypothesis is British zoologist Dr Peter Daszak (pictured), who is known among friends as a 'funny northerner' but considered a potential orchestrator of the pandemic by advocates of the lab-leak theory

One of the most stringent deniers of the man-made hypothesis is British zoologist Dr Peter Daszak (pictured), who is known among friends as a ‘funny northerner’ but considered a potential orchestrator of the pandemic by advocates of the lab-leak theory

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. 

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