EcoHealth Alliance jubilant about controversial new $2.2 million grant

The president of the EcoHealth Alliance (EHA), Peter Daszak, has been jubilantly publicising the new US$2.28 million grant the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the US has awarded the organisation.

The reissuing of the grant for the project ‘Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence’, has led to a storm of protest, not least from those who have been calling for an end to gain-of-function research and Daszak’s resignation as president of the EHA.

The ‘renewal grant’ (number R01AI110964) accords EcoHealth Alliance US$576,290 up to April 30, 2024, and $US568,370 for each of the three subsequent years up to April 30, 2027, so a total US$2,281,400.

The EHA’s previous grant for the same project, which began in 2014, was cancelled in April 2020 because of concerns about the collaborative laboratory research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) that was approved for funding under the grant.

In July 2020 the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is the NIAID’s umbrella organisation, withdrew its termination of the grant, but suspended all activities related to the funding pending the EHA taking certain actions to address NIH concerns.

The deputy director for extramural research at the NIH, Michael Lauer, wrote in a letter to the EHA: “We have concerns that WIV has not satisfied safety requirements under the award, and that EcoHealth Alliance has not satisfied its obligations to monitor the activities of its subrecipient to ensure compliance.”

Lauer also highlighted the fact that the EHA had not reported any subawards in the Federal Subaward Reporting System.

In August 2022 the NIH revised its decision, terminating only the WIV subcontract. Lauer wrote to the EHA stating that the NIH was terminating the subaward from the EHA to the WIV “due to material non-compliance with terms and conditions of award that cannot be remedied by specific award conditions”.

The EcoHealth Alliance says it has worked closely with NIH “to modify the goals of the project and address any prior concerns”.

The organisation says it won’t conduct any on-the-ground work in China and will not do any further field sampling of people or bats, or any recombinant virus culture or infection experiments.

Work will now be done only at EcoHealth Alliance in the US and at the Duke–NUS Medical School in Singapore, the EHA says.

The EHA specifies that the following work will be carried out:

  • work to “characterise and analyse” more than 300 full genomes/large genome segments of SARSr-CoVs from its previous bat sampling in China and from other archived samples “to determine the processes underlying CoV recombination and identify viral strains with high predicted risk of spillover”;
  • work to “analyse archived samples from community- and clinic-based syndromic surveillance of people to identify evidence of spillover, and assess behavioural risk factors and evidence of illness”;
  • and work using only computer modelling and cell culture “to characterise the zoonotic potential of novel viruses and analyse epidemiological data to identify hotspots of future CoV spillover risk”.

The organisation says any Bat-CoV culture work it carries out in the future will be done at Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3)​ laboratories, not BSL-2 facilities.

The EHA says that, in its revision of its previously awarded grant, it has worked closely with the NIH “to modify the goals of the project and address any prior concerns”.

“The specific aims have been revised in consultation with NIAID and NIH staff and respond to any ongoing concerns by removing all on-the-ground work in China and all recombinant virus culture or infection experiments. We have also agreed to all additional oversight mechanisms applied by NIH,” the EHA said.

Daszak tweeted on May 8: “The original goals were based on a very successful 5 yr project that published 18 papers incl. 2 in @Nature & a review in @CELL. Our work showed bats across Southeast Asia harbor an extraordinary diversity of SARSr-CoVs.”

The EHA has so far received more than four million dollars (US$4,325,005) from the NIH for the project since 2014.

The director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases at the WIV, Shi Zhengli, has stated that, from 2014 to 2019, the NIH initially awarded the WIV $665,000 to study “the ecology of bat coronaviruses and the risk of future coronavirus emergence”.

She also said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the WIV $559,500 from its PREDICT-2 project to fund the institute’s study of emerging pandemic threats.

In a letter to Congressman Guy Reschenthaler on May 6, 2021, the USAID’s deputy assistant administrator for legislative affairs, Diala Jadallah-Redding, told Reschenthaler: “Between October 2009 and May 2019, PREDICT provided a total of $1.1 million to the EcoHealth Alliance for a sub-agreement with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for the purpose of advancing research on critical viruses that could pose harm to human and animal health.”

Jadallah-Redding added: “USAID-funded activities carried out by the WIV were consistent with the work performed in other countries that also received related funding. These activities involved testing for viral families (by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)) in samples collected from wild animals and humans, as well as the development of serologic assays to test for exposure (i.e., antibodies) to coronaviruses in animals and people.

“These activities were done to identify and understand zoonotic viruses among animal populations before they spillover (i.e., are able to infect humans) and cause potential pandemics in people.”

Jadallah-Redding said the USAID “never authorised or funded any work that aimed to increase the ability of infectious agents to cause disease by enhancing its pathogenicity or by increasing its transmissibility (research known as ‘Gain of Function’ studies) at WIV”.

She added that the USAID’s work in China through the PREDICT project ended in 2019, “due to the previous administration’s decision to stop all USAID activities in China”. Since then, no additional USAID Global Health Security funding had been provided to the WIV, she said.

Reschenthaler said in a statement on May 14, 2021: “I find it deeply disturbing that American taxpayers footed the bill for over $1 million to support dangerous and potentially deadly research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory with ties to the Chinese Communist Party and military biological research.”

He added: “The American people deserve to know why their hard-earned tax dollars went to a foreign lab that has a history of safety concerns, engages in risky experiments, and had a possible role in the origins of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. I call on Congress to pass my Defund EcoHealth Alliance Act to cut the flow of federal dollars to risky experiments.”

According to official US government data, the WIV ultimately received $598,500 in NIH funding between 2015 and 2019:

NIAID funding of the EHA’s ‘Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence’ project from 2014 to 2023:

Commenting on the grant renewal, Congressman Morgan Griffith, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said: “It’s absolutely reckless that the NIH has renewed a grant for EcoHealth Alliance given their negligence and the breach of their contract with the NIH on the coronavirus research done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“It is now believed likely that Covid-19 was the result of a lab incident at the Wuhan Institute.”

Griffith added: “From my observations, EcoHealth Alliance has not been contrite about their failures. And even worse, they have refused to cooperate with Congress in our attempts to get information about the research they were doing at the Wuhan Institute.

“Until they can demonstrate a willingness to work with Congress to resolve outstanding questions and fulfil all of the terms of their federal contracts, paid for with American taxpayer dollars, all funding should remain suspended, and no new contracts should be awarded.”

Professor of genetics at Rutgers University Bryce Nickels, who is a member of the leadership team at the NGO Biosafety Now, tweeted on May 12: “Republican majority MUST use the #HolmanRule to defund EcoHealth Alliance. Democratic lawmakers behavior on this issue has been indefensible (and arguably unforgivable) for 3 years and counting.”

The Holman Rule is a rule in the US House of Representatives that allows amendments to appropriations legislation that would reduce the salary of or fire specific federal employees, or cut a specific programme.

Nickels says the EHA has clearly been involved in gain-of-function (GoF) research and, given the documented violations of the contractual terms and conditions of its previous grant for ‘Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence’, it should simply not be receiving government funding.

“The NIH’s Office of Extramural Research, the Office of Inspector General in the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US House Oversight Committee, and the US House Energy and Commerce Committee have all documented multiple serious violations of those terms and conditions,” Nickels said.

He added: “It seems ridiculous that, three and a half years into the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re not unified in having a serious, bipartisan investigation of the origin of SARS-CoV-2.

“Then, on top of that, an organisation that was involved in funding research that may have caused the pandemic is now being publicly rewarded by the NIH.

“It’s mind boggling to me that that the vast majority of NIH-funded researchers do not seem to be concerned about it – at least publicly.”

Nickels says the main issues for him are integrity, accountability, transparency, and social responsibility. “All of these things are completely thrown out the window when the NIH makes this decision to give the EcoHealth Alliance money,” he said.

For Nickels, the EHA is a symptom of a larger problem with the NIH, “given that it is the NIH that has decided to keep funding the organisation in spite of what has transpired over the past three years.”

He says one explanation for why the NIH might make a decision that directly contradicts its stated mission may be related to biodefence.

“There’s the fact, which the broader scientific community seems to ignore, that the NIH plays a major role in biodefence,” he said.

“This goes back to the time when the then director of the NIAID, Anthony Fauci, was put in charge of the biodefence programme.”

Nickels points out that the EHA’s major funding sources are actually the State Department (USAID) and the Department of Defence, not the NIH.

“If you really wanted to shut down the EcoHealth Alliance, you would debar them from all federal funding, not just funding from the NIH,” he said.

“In January, Representative Reschenthaler and Senator Joni Ernst introduced a bill to do just that.”

According to published government figures, the EHA received direct funding totalling $46.15 million from the US Department of Defence from 2008 onwards and $41.85 million of this came from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

The total awarded amount, from 155 transactions involving agencies and sub-agencies, is stated to be $80.1 million.

Direct funding from the USAID is put at $11.17 million, but this doesn’t include funds provided for subcontracted work, for instance for the PREDICT project.

The University of California at Davis is a major PREDICT grantee and the EHA is one of the university’s main sub-grantees.

Top five funding agencies and sub-agencies 

Independent journalist Sam Husseini, who has dug deeply into the data about EHA funding, says he has confirmed that EHA’s funding from PREDICT totalled at least $64,722,669 from 2009 to 2020 ($19,943,214 under PREDICT-1 from 2009 to 2014 and $44,779,455 under PREDICT-2 from 2014 to 2020).

Anthony Fauci has been repeatedly accused of lying when he says the NIH has never funded gain-of-function research at the WIV.

Former NIH director Francis Collins has also asserted that the NIH has not supported gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at the WIV.

Collins said on ‘Special Report’ on Fox News on May 14, 2021, that the NIH “never approved any grant that would have supported gain-of-function research on dangerous coronaviruses to see if they could be more transmissible or lethal for individuals in the human species”.

He added: “That was not something that we would have done … we never approved that kind of research.”

On May 13, 2021, Richard H. Ebright, a microbiologist working at Rutgers University, who is also a member of the leadership team at Biosafety Now, tweeted: “It is a demonstrable fact that WIV used NIH funding to construct novel chimeric SARS-related coronavirus with the ability to infect human cells and laboratory animals. The research was–unequivocally–gain of function research.”

In January 2023, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report that said the NIH and the EHA “did not effectively monitor awards and subawards, resulting in missed opportunities to oversee research and other deficiencies”.

The OIG stated in its report: “Despite identifying potential risks associated with research being performed under the EcoHealth awards, we found that NIH did not effectively monitor or take timely action to address EcoHealth’s compliance with some requirements.

“Although NIH and EcoHealth had established monitoring procedures, we found deficiencies in complying with those procedures limited NIH and EcoHealth’s ability to effectively monitor Federal grant awards and subawards to understand the nature of the research conducted, identify potential problem areas, and take corrective action.”

The deficiencies in the oversight of the awards cited by the OIG include the following:

  • the NIH’s “improper termination of a grant”;
  • the EHA’s “inability to obtain scientific documentation from the WIV”; and
  • the EcoHealth’s “improper use of grant funds, resulting in $89,171 in unallowable costs”.

The OIG stated: “Although WIV cooperated with EcoHealth’s monitoring for several years, WIV’s lack of cooperation following the Covid-19 outbreak limited EcoHealth’s ability to monitor its subrecipient.

“NIH should assess how it can best mitigate these issues and ensure that it can oversee the use of NIH funds by foreign recipients and subrecipients.”

The OIG’s recommendations included considering whether it was appropriate to refer the WIV to the HHS for debarment.

Daszak denies that gain-of-function research was carried out at the WIV using EHA funds.

In Britain’s Daily Mail, he is quoted as saying: “We actually said we were proposing to not do those experiments because I think that right now, there is so much discussion about them. So much controversy over them.

“We’re in a situation where the public hasn’t really decided yet whether those experiments should happen, and what the value is and what the risk is.

“So we’re going to, for the next four years, not do that type of experiment with these viruses. And I think, politically, it’s a very charged situation in the US, and we felt it was the best way forward to get on with the work.”

In his testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability on March 6 this year, the chairman of the Lancet Covid-19 Commission, Jeffrey Sachs, said that NIH leaders, including Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci, kept gain-of-function research hidden from the Congress and the public and repeatedly misled the Congress and the public about the subject.

Sachs added: “They did not properly disclose the NIH work that supported dangerous genetic manipulation of SARS-related coronaviruses.”

Sachs made reference to the project entitled ‘DEFUSE’ (Defusing the Threat of Bat-Borne Coronaviruses) proposed by the EHA.

The EHA requested a grant to fund research that would have involved injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses into humanised mice.

According to leaked documents given to the DRASTIC team of investigators by an anonymous source, the EHA submitted a grant proposal to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the US on March 24, 2018. The proposal was made to the DARPA under the umbrella of the PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT) programme.

The EHA requested a total $14,209,245 over 3.5 years ($8,411,546 for phase 1 and $5,797,699 for phase 2), according to the leaked documents.

According to the leaked documents, the DARPA refused to give full funding for the project.

The leaked documents show that the EHA, in concert with the WIV, attempted to carry out a project that the DRASTIC team of investigators describes as “advanced and dangerous human pathogenicity research that would clearly qualify as gain of function (GoF)”.

Sachs said: “The grant proposal was not funded by DARPA, but the research may have been, and quite possibly was, carried out using other resources.

“They did not disclose the DARPA proposal and its possible relevance to the origin of SARS-CoV-2. In fact, the public learned of the DARPA proposal only through a leak.”

In a May 17 meeting of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Senator Rand Paul highlighted the difficulties he’s encountered trying to obtain documents relating to the possible origins of Covid-19 and investigations into the actions of the EHA and the WIV.

“With just one agency, the NIH, we’ve asked for 77 different questions and documents,” Paul said. “It’s whether or not some science was not properly reviewed, whether some of that science was used in Wuhan, or whether an accident happened. That’s all we want to know.”

Paul (pictured left) said he’d been requesting records from the Biden administration for the past two years.

“I’ve asked eight different Democrat chairmen to help with those records requests because the Biden administration objects to records requests unless they are signed by a chairman,” Paul said. “And for the last five months I’ve been working with the chairman of this committee to try to get records and we still have had no records requests sent and no help from the majority party on this committee.”

He added: “The foreign relations committee has information that I want to see; they don’t want to give it up … it’s really a problem of everybody trying to hold secret stuff that is not classified, shouldn’t be secret … how do we have oversight if we can’t see these records?”

Paul, who has has numerous run-ins with Anthony Fauci in congressional hearings, says Fauci has been “parsing his words” when denying that the NIH funded gain-of-function research at the WIV.

In a documentary on Britain’s Channel 4,  David Relman, who is a medicine and microbiology professor at Stanford University in the US, said that the NIH had adopted a narrow definition of gain-of-function research. When people at the NIH talk about gain of function, he says, they’re talking about work that’s set out with a specific purpose of adding transmissibility or virulence to something that didn’t have that function.

Relman says his definition would be work that could be reasonably anticipated to create a new virus that had enhanced transmissibility or enhanced virulence.

“Based on that definition, the Wuhan institute was clearly doing that kind of work,” Relman said. “How do we know? They published it. And to answer the question ‘Was it supported by the NIH?’, the answer is yes; indirectly but yes.”

During the US’s funding moratorium on GoF research from 2014 to 2017, the EHA submitted its Year Two progress report dated May 13, 2016, to NIAID for grant R01AI110964.

The EHA disclosed that it would conduct experiments in humanised mice using two chimeric bat coronaviruses.

The NIH wrote to the EHA on May 28, 2016, to advise that NIAID determined the R01AI110964 grant research project might include GoF experiments subject to the GoF research pause instigated in 2014.

Under Daszak’s signature, the EHA replied to the NIH on June 8, 2016, asserting that their research was not gain of function

The EHA stated:

The EHA also argued that, because the virus was ten percent different from the original SARS-CoV, their research did not qualify being subject to the GoF moratorium.

In its response to the EHA on July 7, 2016, the NIH said the NIAID agreed with the EHA’s determination that its work was not subject to the GoF pause, but added a condition.

The NIH stated:

Three House Republicans who have written to Daszak grilling him about the EHA’s relationship with the WIV say that the chimeric virus used in the humanised mice experiment produced more than one log of virus growth compared to the WIV1 parental backbone.

Morgan Griffith along with the leader of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and the leader of the Subcommittee on Health, Brett Guthrie, said, in a letter to Francis Collins on October 27, 2021:

“In fact, it appears the experiment with the virus listed as SHC014 produced more than three logs of comparative growth. Per their grant terms, EcoHealth was to stop their experiment and notify NIAID. It does not appear it did either.

“As a result, NIAID’s oversight of the grant failed to detect the viral growth issue and, notably, did not hold EcoHealth accountable for violating the terms of its grant.”

Peter Daszak (left) and Anthony Fauci. Photo posted by the EHA on Twitter on March 31, 2016.

EHA defends the ‘spillover’ hypothesis

In a letter to the editor of the Daily Mail, the EHA challenges what Morgan Griffith says about the lab-leak hypothesis and states: “There are now over a dozen peer-reviewed scientific papers analysing primary data that suggest instead that Covid-19 emerged through a wildlife-to-human spillover via the wildlife trade.”

The EHA also says Griffith “seems to be unaware that EcoHealth Alliance is currently cooperating with three Congressional committees”.

It adds in its letter that the EHA is sharing documents and responding to written questions from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the House Energy & Commerce Committee, “on which Representative Griffith himself sits”.

Paul Nuki, writing in the Telegraph in Britain, quotes Daszak as saying that the resumption of NIH funding would enable the EHA to analyse hundreds of animal and human genetic sequences collected before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Nuki quotes Daszak as saying: “Some of the human samples might give us clues about Covid origins. We do have a lot of human serum samples in the freezers around Southeast Asia, and it may be that some of those show high levels of spillover of SARS-like coronaviruses. But the primary goal is to understand why coronaviruses [present] a high risk of spillover, not to hunt down the origin of Covid.”

In its project summary the EHA states: “This project seeks to understand what factors allow bat-origin coronaviruses, including close relatives to SARS, to jump into the human population by studying their evolutionary diversity, the patterns of spillover in people that live in high-risk communities, and analyzing characteristics of bat coronaviruses that could allow them to

“This work will produce reagents and genetic sequences that can be used to test vaccines and therapeutics to fight future pandemics, and hotspot maps that can be used to target surveillance and control measures to prevent their emergence.”

In its Story Map, the organisation adds: “The modified goals of this R01 project reflect a renegotiation of the terms of this award between NIH and EcoHealth Alliance, as described in a letter of August 19 th , 2022 from NIH. 

“The revised goals remain true to the original goals of our funded R01 renewal: characterizing the risk of CoV spillover. They have also carefully considered the concerns that led to the initial suspension of this award, and now do not involve recombinant virus technology, dual use research of concern, nor experiments intended to enhance the virulence or transmissibility of human pathogens (so-called “gain of function” research).

“The research in this study will be focused on bat coronaviruses, to understand how, when, and under what conditions they are likely to spillover from bats to other mammals, including humans.”

The EHA says in its Story Map that it has more than 2,000 archived human serum samples collected prior to the Covid-19 pandemic from communities located within SARSr-CoV spillover hotspots in South and Southeast Asia.

“These include samples from people with high wildlife contact and those reporting respiratory disease,” the EHA writes.

“At Duke-NUS we will test these samples using a novel assay (SARSr-CoV ACE2 surrogate virus neutralization test) that can distinguish between antibodies that people may have to different lineages of bat-CoVs, to SARS-CoV, and to any of the known variants of SARS-CoV-2. We will also access and test further archived sera (maximum 9,350) from our collaborative network in the region as the work proceeds.”

Under the terms and conditions of the renewed grant the EHA will have to receive approval for all of its spending using NIH funds before receiving the money. The EHA will also have to update the NIH twice a year about the status of its research.

Daszak succeeds in garnering significant media support, including from science journalists, and, after the grant for the ‘Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence’ project was cancelled in April 2020, 77 scientists wrote to Francis Collins and the then United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar saying they were “gravely concerned” about the grant’s cancellation. Later in the month four more scientists added their names to the letter.

They wrote: “We believe that this action sets a dangerous precedent by interfering in the conduct of science and jeopardizes public trust in the process of awarding federal funds for research.”

In September 2021, however, an international group of ten scientists and health experts called on the EHA board to remove Daszak as the organisation’s president.

Daszak “concealed several extreme situations of conflict of interest, withheld critical information, and misled public opinion by expressing falsehoods”, the ten experts said.

They wrote in a letter sent to the chair of the EHA, Nancye Green, and vice-chair Carlota Vollhardt that the EHA’s role in the investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic had become increasingly controversial and was attracting much attention.

The letter was also sent to Francis Collins, Anthony Fauci, and the HSS Secretary, Xavier Becerra.

The letter’s authors alleged that Daszak failed to publicly disclose that the EHA had applied in March 2018 to receive the DARPA grant that, they wrote, would have funded a project “creating novel chimeric viruses that are optimised to infect humans and that could unleash unknown and untold havoc”.

The DEFUSE project would have included experiments with MERS-CoV “which is far more deadly than SARS-CoV-2”, the letter’s authors wrote.

In February 2023, after the release of the OIG report, US senator Joni Ernst wrote to Xavier Becerra urging the department to “immediately and permanently debar WIV from receiving US funding to ensure that not another penny from taxpayers is ever sent to China’s state-run Wuhan Institute of Virology by NIH or any other component or grantee of HHS”.

Ernst added: “While NIH ultimately bears the blame for being unable to provide answers to questions about what was going on in the Wuhan Institute with U.S. taxpayers’ dollars, EcoHealth and especially WIV have blatantly refused to cooperate with the search for the truth.

‘Analysing the potential for bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam’

On September 21, 2022, the EHA was awarded US$3.1 million (grant number R01AI163118) for its project entitled ‘Analysing the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam’.

The EHA says the aims of the project are “to analyse behavioural and environmental risk factors behind the spillover of coronaviruses (CoVs), identify wildlife-to-human spillover events before they amplify, assess the risk and drivers of community transmission and spread, and identify strategies to prevent them happening”.

Samples would be taken from about 3,000 to 5000 bats during the study and the researchers will target areas where people have been identified as likely to be exposed to bat CoVs, the EHA says.

Samples would also be taken from other mammals “based on reported interactions with people who have been exposed to bat CoVs, or by their proximity to the communities where exposed people live”, the organisation adds.

The EHA says it will be working in collaboration with researchers working at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Hanoi, Vietnam; the National Health Laboratory in Yangon, Myanmar; the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department in  Taunggyi, Myanmar; and the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit (LOMWRU) in Vientiane, Laos.

It says scientists at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore will provide technical support on serology assays and viral characterisation.

All fieldwork will be conducted “using full and appropriate PPE, with field veterinary and biosafety oversight”. It says laboratory research will be conducted in labs at the appropriate biosafety level, “audited by EcoHealth Alliance on a regular basis following strict rules for such research”, the EHA says.

The organisation says the work will be a critical contribution “to developing the knowledge that will enable the global community to prevent  the next pandemic”.

However, as millions of dollars continue to be poured into research conducted by the EHA, there are repeated calls for independent investigation of the hypothesis that the Covid-19 pandemic was caused by a lab leak, not a zoonotic spillover.

In the Lancet commission report about the Covid-19 pandemic, published on September 14, 2022, Sachs et al. say that both hypotheses for the origin of SARS-CoV-2 – “a zoonotic spillover from wildlife or a farm animal, possibly through a wet market, in a location that is still undetermined” or emergence from a research-related incident, during the field collection of viruses or through a laboratory-associated escape – require further scientific investigation.

Sachs et al. say in their recommendations: “WHO, governments, and the scientific community should intensify the search for the origins of SARS-CoV-2, investigating both a possible zoonotic origin and a possible research-associated origin”.


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