Scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), including British zoologist Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance, were reportedly planning to release “enhanced airborne coronaviruses into Chinese bat populations” to inoculate them in the months before the pandemic. The scientists also sought funding from the U.S. to “create chimeric viruses,” which are “genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily.”
The Telegraph reported that the plans from the Chinese scientists were revealed in leaked grant proposals dating back to 2018, which a former U.S. official confirmed as being authentic, the outlet claimed.
“New documents show that just 18 months before the first Covid-19 cases appeared, researchers had submitted plans to release skin-penetrating nanoparticles containing ‘novel chimeric spike proteins’ of bat coronaviruses into cave bats in Yunnan, China,” The Telegraph reported. “Papers, confirmed as genuine by a former member of the Trump administration, show they were hoping to introduce ‘human-specific cleavage sites’ to bat coronaviruses which would make it easier for the virus to enter human cells.”
The report said that Daszak, who has emerged as a shadowy figure in the search for the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, submitted the bid. Daszak reportedly sought $14 million for the research from the U.S.’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
DARPA refused to fund the project, saying, “It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk.”
The report said that Daszak’s team had not considered how dangerous the work was — and particularly had not considered the potential danger of releasing a vaccine by air.
The report noted that Daszak was behind a letter in the Lancet that helped to shut down talk of whether the pandemic originated in a Chinese lab. Nearly all of the scientists that signed the Lancet letter have ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Angus Dalgleish, Professor of Oncology at St Georges, University of London, said that the work was “clearly a gain of function, engineering the cleavage site and polishing the new viruses to enhance human cell infectibility in more than one cell line.”
“For more than a year I tried repeatedly to ask questions of Peter Daszak with no response,” Viscount Ridley, a member of the House of Lords said. “Now it turns out he had authored this vital piece of information about virus work in Wuhan but refused to share it with the world. I am furious. So should the world be. Peter Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) proposed injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into humanized and ‘batified’ mice, and much, much more.”
A COVID-19 researcher from the World Health Organization told The Telegraph that “the scary part” about what the scientists were trying to do was that they were “making infectious chimeric MERS viruses.”
“These viruses have a fatality rate over 30 percent, which is at least an order of magnitude more deadly than Sars-CoV-2,” the scientist, who wished to stay anonymous, told The Telegraph. “If one of their receptor replacements made MERS spread similarly while maintaining its lethality, this pandemic would be nearly apocalyptic.”