The Lancet, a respected British medical journal, updated the profiles of members on its COVID-19 Commission and said Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, has been “recused” from working on the origins of the pandemic.
The magazine took to Twitter on Monday to address a letter published in the magazine from February 2020 titled, “Statement in Support of the Scientists, Public Health Professionals, and Medical Professionals of China Combatting COVID-19.”
The letter read, in part: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham told “Hannity” earlier this month that the letter was “like the Russia dossier all over again.”
“This stinks to high heaven. This is Lab-gate, China-gate, call it whatever you want to call it,” he said.
The Lancet’s tweet said the authors at the time declared no competing interests, but “some readers have questioned the validity of this disclosure.” The magazine said it contacted the 27 authors to ask if they had any interest in updating their disclosures, and Daszak chose to “expand on his disclosure statements.”
Daszak’s statement said he is paid “solely in the form of salary from EcoHealth Alliance.” The statement said the funding for the non-profit comes from various U.S. government agencies and non-governmental sources, which are listed publicly. Daszak and the non-profit took no funding from the People’s Republic of China.
Daszak’s disclosure said he “joined the WHO-China joint global study on the animal origins of SARS-CoV-2 towards the end of 2020 and is currently a member.”
“As per WHO rules, this work is undertaken as an independent expert in a private capacity, not as an EcoHealth Alliance staff member,” the addendum read. EcoHealth Alliance’s work in China “involves assessing the risk of viral spillover across the wildlife-livestock-human interface, and includes behavioral and serological surveys of people, and ecological and virological analyses of animals.”
Some of the work involved SARS-related coronavirus identification and “a small number of recombinant bat coronaviruses to analyze cell entry and other characteristics of bat coronaviruses for which only the genetic sequences are available.”
The note said all work has been approved by the appropriate committees.
EcoHealth, The Lancet and Daszak did not immediately respond to after-hours emails from Fox News.
Daszak has appeared in multiple media fact-checks and reports over the past year dispelling the notion the coronavirus accidentally emerged from the lab. Daszak’s New York-based organization sent $3.4 million in National Institutes of Health grants to the Wuhan lab between 2014 and 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Lancet did not explain exactly why Daszak was recused. The Daily Mail first reported on the profile update and said it was Daszak who helped organize the letter.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top disease expert, has been under increasing pressure by Republicans over funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Fauci and the NIH need to “come clean” amid allegations that U.S. taxpayer dollars funded “gain of function” research at the lab. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has said the money was not used for gain of function research, but rather studying bats.
Fauci gave a wide-ranging interview earlier this month that mainly focused on the origins of the coronavirus, and he was asked if he believed his own organizations could have any responsibility for the global pandemic.
“Are you really saying that we are implicated because we gave a multibillion-dollar institution $120,000 a year for bat surveillance?” he asked, according to the Financial Times.
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