Shortly before the disastrous Covid-19 outbreak, the Chinese scientist who oversaw controversial virus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology attended a secret meeting with the US government to seek support for a project that would go on to supercharge coronaviruses.
Zhengli, known as ‘Batwoman’ for her work on virus sampling and sequencing in the animals, has become the missing link in understanding how the United States and China co-managed the Covid fallout. Shi Zhengli’s June 2017 meeting at America’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) is now fueling fears of Western collusion with a Chinese communist cover-up after the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is widely believed to have been caused by a careless laboratory experiment at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A fresh batch of data acquired by Freedom of Information activists and examined by The Daily Mail on Sunday reveals the degree to which America backed, and frequently sponsored, the contentious work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
They indicate that in order to increase their chances of winning funds, US researchers seeking financing for studies to engineer ‘spike proteins,’ which make it easier for bat viruses to infect human cells, deceived the authorities about the hazards of the trials.
The documents obtained by US Right To Know, a non-profit public health research organization, include a directive issued by Chinese intelligence on January 3, 2020 – two days after the world first learned about Covid – requiring its scientists to either share their samples with the government or destroy them “on the spot.”
Western intelligence services are now seeing a lab breach in Wuhan as the most plausible explanation for Covid, rather than the initial notion that it originated in the city’s wildlife market. The explosive papers include emails written by officials at EcoHealth Alliance – a now-infamous health organization that has utilized US government funds to fund bat virus investigations – prior to Professor Zhengli’s arrival.
“Zhengli and I will do a double act, and we’ll cover the work we’re doing … as well as the broadscale surveillance of bats for novel viruses,” says Peter Daszak, the $460,000-a-year head of EcoHealth.
Professor Zhengli earned the nickname ‘Batwoman’ for her virus-hunting treks to southern China’s bat caves, hundreds of kilometers from Wuhan, where her team gathered over 10,000 animal samples.
Covid-19 sequencing closely matched that discovered in those caves. Peng Zhou, an associate professor at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was also invited to the conference.
Daszak thanked the hosts in an email after the meeting, saying that it was “nice to have a chance to introduce our collaborators to you personally.”
EcoHealth also lobbied the Pentagon for funding for Zhengli to engineer high-risk coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute in December 2018, a year before the Covid-19 virus emerged, by synthesising spike proteins with furin cleavage sites that were designed to bind to human receptors more easily.
Dr. Ralph Baric, a coronavirus expert at the center of concerns about gain-of-function studies, acknowledged in an email that US researchers would ‘freak out’ if they discovered novel coronavirus engineering and testing was being done in low-security Chinese laboratories, but disguised it to make the US government more ‘comfortable’ with the plan, which the researchers claim was intended to aid in pandemic prevention.
That proposal was turned down by the US government, but critics say the plans laid out in the proposal serve as a ‘blueprint’ for how to create Covid. Professor Zhengli has denounced the idea of a lab leak as baseless, including claims by US intelligence that several of her colleagues at the institute were infected before the outbreak emerged.
When challenged with the accusations, she said: “How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence? I don’t know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist.”
The U.S. government rejected the proposal, but opponents claim the objectives included in it serve as a ‘blueprint’ for how to build Covid. Professor Zhengli has dismissed the notion of a lab breach, as well as reports by US intelligence that numerous of her coworkers at the institution were infected prior to the outbreak’s emergence.
When challenged on the revealing documents, she replied: “How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence? I don’t know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist.”
It should be noted that the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing in March 2023 that showed that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had substandard security protocols.
“We have learned that the Wuhan Institute has poor biosafety and was conducting this research at only biosafety level two, described as ‘the Wild West’ by Dr. Jeremy Farrar, a virologist from the UK, now chief scientist for the WHO,” the Subcommittee Chair Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) noted.
Nonetheless, long before the COVID-19 pandemic, former NIAID Director Dr. Fauci and former NIH Chief Dr. Francis Collins were highly visible, public advocates for laboratory experiments that involved “generating a potentially dangerous virus in a laboratory,” legal documents showed.
Such research of “generating a potentially dangerous virus in a laboratory” is commonly called “gain-of-function” research, the exhibit notes. Dr. Fauci testified that “[g]ain of function is a very potentially misleading terminology, and that was one of the reasons why several years ago outside groups, not the NIH … did away with the terminology ‘gain of function’ because it can often be very confusing and misleading.” Yet Dr. Fauci confirms that “the NIH” did not “d[o] away” with that terminology, and Dr. Fauci’s own internal email used the phrase “SARS Gain of Function” to describe the research on bat coronaviruses that was conducted by Dr. Shi Zhengli and others at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, partly funded by Dr. Fauci’s NIAID through the subgrants from the EcoHealth Alliance, the attorneys continued.
The legal briefing then turns to Fauci funding such risky gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“On June 1, 2014, Dr. Fauci’s NIAID funded a grant to the EcoHealth Alliance for the five-year period June 1, 2014, to May 31, 2019. Fauci Ex. 2, at 2. The title of the project was ‘Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.’ The project’s Abstract stated: “This project will examine the risk of future coronavirus (CoV) emergence from wildlife using indepth field investigations across the human-wildlife interface in China, molecular characterization of novel CoVs and host receptor binding domain genes, mathematical models of transmission and evolution, and in vitro and in vivo laboratory studies of host range.”
The Abstract noted that one of the project’s “three specific aims” would be to “[t]est predictions of CoV inter-species transmission” by engaging in two forms of research to enhance the bat coronaviruses’ transmissibility to humans: “reverse genetics,” i.e., genetic manipulation of the viruses to render them more transmissible; and “virus infection experiments” using “humanized mice,” i.e., repeatedly infecting humanized mice with bat coronaviruses to provoke mutations that render them more infectious to human cells (a process known as “serial passage”). Specifically, the Abstract stated: “Predictive models of host range (i.e.[,] emergence potential) will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments across a range of cell cultures from different species and humanized mice.”
Dr. Fauci endeavored to argue that “reverse genetics” is so vague it might not refer to gain-of-function research, the attorneys noted. (“I’m not really quite sure what they’re referring to. Reverse genetics can mean many things.”). But Dr. Fauci admits that “reverse genetics” means “[m]anipulation of a virus, recombination, things like that.” In 2015, in an article reporting on research performed pursuant to this grant, Dr. Ralph Baric and Dr. Shi Zhengli wrote that they used “reverse genetics” to “generate and characterize a chimeric virus” that was more infectious and more virulent in humans. Dr. Fauci’s own internal email describes that article as addressing “SARS Gain of Function,” the lawyers added.
Dr. Anthony Fauci will appear before the 118th Congress for the first time for a two-day transcribed interview on January 8, 2024 and January 9, 2024, according to the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
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