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COVID-19 Origins: Wuhan Lab Wanted to Release ‘Skin-Penetrating’ Coronavirus Into Bat Populations

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: September 27, 2021
An aerial view shows the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on April 17, 2020. - The P4 epidemiological laboratory was built in co-operation with French bio-industrial firm Institut Merieux and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The facility is among a handful of labs around the world cleared to handle Class 4 pathogens (P4) - dangerous viruses that pose a high risk of person-to-person transmission. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Recently released documents revealed that U.S. and Wuhan scientists planned on leaking enhanced airborne coronavirus particles into the bat population in China. The decision was aimed at inoculating the bats against diseases that could transmit to human beings. The documents, related to a grant proposal, were released by Drastic, an online investigation team made up of scientists looking into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant proposal was made by EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) in conjunction with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2018. WIV is the Chinese lab that is the focus of the lab leak theory concerning the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. EHA was earlier revealed to have transferred funds from the federal government to the WIV for coronavirus research.

In the grant proposal, EHA and its president, Peter Daszak, sought money for a project named “DEFUSE” that proposed injecting “chimeric bat coronaviruses” collected by WIV into humanized and “batified” mice. According to documents, the researchers planned on releasing skin-penetrating nanoparticles and aerosols containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” of bat viruses into caves in the Chinese province of Yunnan just 18 months before the first COVID-19 cases emerged.

The researchers also wanted to introduce “human-specific cleavage sites” onto the bat coronaviruses with the aim of making entry into the human cells easier for the virus. It is this human-specific adaptation at the cleavage site of the COVID-19 virus’s spike protein that makes it so infectious. Back when the COVID-19 virus was initially genetically sequenced, scientists were baffled at how the virus had evolved such human-specific cleavage sites.

“Given that we find in this EHA proposal, a discussion of the planned introduction of human-specific cleavage sites into novel SARS-r CoVs, a review by the wider scientific community of the plausibility of artificial insertion of an FCS into SARS-CoV-2 or a progenitor is warranted,” Drastic said in their analysis

The grant proposal also had plans for mixing high-risk natural coronaviruses with less dangerous but more infectious varieties. Team members involved in the research include scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC), East China Normal University (ECNU), UNC-Chapel Hill, and Duke-National University in Singapore.

DARPA refused to fund the project, pointing out that it could put “local communities at risk.” 

The agency warned that the research team had not fully taken into account potential dangers involved in enhancing the virus, which would fall under gain-of-function research.

The research team admits in the documents that they also had concerns regarding the vaccine project. Interestingly, EHA president Daszak published a letter last year in the medical journal “The Lancet” which dismissed the possibility of a lab origin for the COVID-19 virus.

“For more than a year I tried repeatedly to ask questions of Peter Daszak with no response… 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,” Viscount Ridley told The Telegraph. Ridley has co-authored a book on the origins of the COVID-19 virus due to be released in November. 

An oncology professor from London said to the media outlet that though DARPA rejected the grant proposal, the research might have still gone ahead. The grant proposal also included plans to enhance the more deadly MERS virus that has a fatality rate of more than 30 percent.

Between 2014 and 2019, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) had provided Ecohealth with $3-million in taxpayer funds, some of which went into WIV for research on a project that sought to understand the risk of bat coronaviruses. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, had earlier admitted that some of the federal funds were given to the WIV but staunchly refused to admit that they had funded gain-of-function research.

“As a first step toward overcoming the shocking obfuscation & misinformation campaign, I call for Peter Daszak to immediately be removed from both @TheLancet #COVID19 commission & the @WHO convened int’l expert group on pandemic origins. Join me,” Jamie Metzl, a member of Drastic, said in a Sept. 21 tweet.

The Drastic revelation comes as former President Donald Trump recently told Sky News that he knew about body bags being heaped up at the Wuhan lab. Trump stated that he was “95 percent” confident that the COVID-19 virus emerged from WIV.

“I don’t know if they had bad thoughts or whether it was gross incompetence, but one way or the other it came out of Wuhan, it came from the Wuhan lab…. I started hearing stories… that there were lots of body bags outside of the lab. I heard that a long time ago. And if they did in fact have body bags, that was one little indication wasn’t it?” Trump said.