- Gain-of-function research to alter coronaviruses for the infection of humans goes back to 1999 or earlier, years before the first novel coronavirus outbreak.
- Peter Daszak, President of EcoHealth Alliance, is a top scientific collaborator, grant writer and spokesperson for virus hunters and gain-of-function/dual-use researchers, in labs both military and civilian. (TAP – Dr Death of 2020? – except he’s not a doctor)
- On behalf of the U.S. government, often the military, Daszak scours the globe for animal pathogens and brings them back to the lab to be catalogued, investigated and manipulated. (TAP – just a bit of a hobby really and it might help exterminate the bulk of the human race as well. Pay’s good too.)
- To learn that the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 has been in the care of the gain-of-function researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for seven years does nothing to allay suspicions that the virus infected humans only after being tinkered with in a lab.
- The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced a five-year, $82-million investment in a new global network of Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases, including gain-of-function experiments to “determine what genetic or other changes make [animal] pathogens capable of infecting humans”.
- SCARRY STUFF! Better than any horror movie is today’s world where doctors are trying to kill us with specially created viruses!!!! Tests are fake. Vaccines are weapons. Effective treatments are banned. Yet despite all their efforts and huge amounts of money consumed, the human immune system stands firm. The human psyche is however crumbling visibly before the threat. That is our only problem in the end of the day. We need to will to fight back and stop these murderers.
Daszak works with dozens of high-containment laboratories around the world that collect pathogens and use genetic engineering and synthetic biology to make them more infectious, contagious, lethal or drug-resistant. These include labs controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense, in countries in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.
Many of these labs are staffed by former biological weapons scientists. (See Arms Watch’s reports.1) Before the Biological Weapons Convention was ratified, this research was called what it is: biological weapons research. Now, it’s euphemistically called gain-of-function or dual-use research.
Gain-of-function research to alter coronaviruses for the infection of humans2 goes back to 1999 or earlier,3 years before the first novel coronavirus outbreak. On behalf of the U.S. government, often the military, Daszak scours the globe for animal pathogens and brings them back to the lab to be catalogued, investigated and manipulated.
Daszak and others justify their research this way: If/When an outbreak of a new virus occurs, they can compare it to the ones in their labs, and maybe glean how the novel virus emerged. A recent Wired magazine article4 quoting Daszak described how a virus collected in 2012 was found to be a 96% match to SARS-CoV-2 in 2020:
“The search for the source of SARS – which killed more than 770 people two decades ago – has given us a headstart for the current hunt.
Wearing hazmat suits and equipped with mist nets, a team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, together with the ecologist and president of EcoHealth Alliance Peter Daszak, ventured into limestone caves to collect faeces and blood samples from thousands of roosting bats before testing them for novel coronaviruses in the lab.
‘At the time, we were looking for SARS-related viruses, and this one was 20 percent different,’ says Daszak. ‘We thought it’s interesting, but not high-risk. So we didn’t do anything about it and put it in the freezer.’
The group has found around 500 bat-borne viruses in China over the last 16 years, but only flagged those that most resembled SARS to the authorities – a lack of funding meant they couldn’t further investigate the virus strain now known to be 96 percent genetically similar to the virus that causes Covid-19.”
Interesting though that story is, it fails to explain how SARS-CoV-2 evolved. Some scientists say it would take 50 years5 for RaTG13 to turn into SARS-CoV-2. Others propose theories6 on how the virus might have evolved so quickly, yet still suspect that it escaped from the Wuhan lab.
Certainly, to learn that the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 has been in the care of the gain-of-function researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for seven years does nothing to allay suspicions that the virus infected humans only after being tinkered with in a lab.7
Still, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is going all-in on virus hunting. The institute just announced a five-year, $82-million8 investment in a new global network of Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases, including gain-of-function experiments to “determine what genetic or other changes make [animal] pathogens capable of infecting humans.”
Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance will receive $7.5 million9 from this grant. This is on top of $100.9 million10 that EcoHealth Alliance has received in government grants and contracts since 2003. (What was that Daszak said about how “a lack of funding meant they couldn’t further investigate the virus strain now known to be 96-percent genetically similar to the virus that causes Covid-19”11)?
Critics12 of virus hunting say scientists like Daszak could make a greater contribution to human health by going after the viruses that commonly infect humans, not the ones that never have. According to a 2018 Smithsonian Magazine report:13
“Not everyone thinks that discovering viruses and their hotspots is the best way to prevent pandemics. Dr. Robert B. Tesh, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, says we don’t understand enough about zoonotic viruses to create predictive models. ‘A lot of the stuff they produce is hype. … It’s more PR than science.'”
Daszak’s research might be more hype14 and public relations than science, but the Department of Homeland Security’s National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) has chosen to rely on it. NBIC gave Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance a $2.2-million15 contract (2016-2019) to create a “Ground Truth Network”16 of “subject matter experts” who could provide “contextual information pertaining to biological events.”
The context17 Daszak invariably provides is a compelling one. Destruction of forests and other encroachments on wildlife habitats, especially the hunting of wild animals and the sale of live animals in wet markets, is forcing humans and animals into uncomfortable proximity. This is bad for vulnerable and endangered species, as well as for humans who are at increasing risk for contracting novel zoonotic diseases.
Who isn’t shocked and appalled to learn that people eat bats, or that marvelously strange and adorable animals you’ve never heard of ― pangolins, civet cats ― have had their habitats destroyed and are now being sold for meat at live animal markets? Daszak’s framing of the issue ― what has come to be known as the One Health approach ― has been heartily embraced by the U.S. military.
But what if the stories being spun by Daszak and his fellow government-supported subject matter experts aren’t supported by the evidence? Let’s look at EcoHealth Alliance’s story about Ebola and bushmeat.
False Narrative, Tragic Outcomes
From 2011 to 2014, Ecohealth Alliance had a $164,480 purchase order contract from the Centers for Disease Control in Pittsburgh for “Bushmeat.” No more information than that is available on that contract (HHSD2002011M41641P18), but the money likely funded a paper Daszak and his colleagues published in 2012.
The 2012 paper,19 “Zoonotic Viruses Associated with Illegally Imported Wildlife Products,” was used in August 2014, at the height of the West African Ebola pandemic, as the basis for a Newsweek article titled, “Smuggled Bushmeat Is Ebola’s Back Door to America.”20
The article, which quoted an EcoHealth Alliance spokesperson, spread a false (not to mention racist and xenophobic) narrative, one that subsequently would be thoroughly debunked,21 that bushmeat smuggled to the U.S. from Africa could transmit Ebola to Americans.
In January 2015, a meeting of the UK Bushmeat Working Group convened. The group countered Daszak’s misinformation with the facts, in an article titled, “Ebola and Bushmeat: Myth and Reality.”22 The article stated:
“As the Ebola virus can remain viable in untreated carcasses for up to 3-4 days, there is a risk of transporting it to bushmeat markets (although there is no evidence of this to date).
However, the risk of transmitting Ebola in bushmeat overseas to Europe or the USA is extremely low, given the total travel time and the fact that these carcasses are usually smoked (which probably inactivates the virus). The risk of spread to new areas lies with the movement of infected people, not infected meat.”
Tragically, the misinformation about bushmeat as a primary cause of Ebola transmission had already been communicated to West Africans in the midst of the crisis, through international health organizations, including Daszak’s funder,23 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Daszak’s misinformation campaign overshadowed the truth — that the only way Ebola was actually being transmitted during the pandemic was via contact with the bodily fluids of people sick with Ebola, or with their corpses.
Perpetuating Mythical Theories
The SARS pandemic is another instance where Daszak’s theories didn’t pan out. It is commonly accepted that the SARS pandemic began in 2002,24 when humans caught a bat virus from civet cats at a wet market in Guangdong, China. But Daszak and his collaborators admit they have no evidence to explain how the virus leapt from bats to civets to humans.
SARS-CoV was found in civets at the Guangdong wet market, but civets aren’t the natural reservoir of this virus. Bats are. Only the civets at the market — and no farm-raised or wild civets — carried the virus. None of the animal traders handling the civets at the market had SARS.
When Daszak and his collaborators at the WIV25 searched the cave in Yunnan for strains of coronavirus similar to human versions, no single bat actually had SARS. Genetic pieces of the various strains would have to be recombined to make up the human version. Adding to the confusion, Yunnan is about 1,000 kilometers from Guangdong.
So, how did viruses from bats in Yunnan combine to become deadly to humans, and then travel to civets and people in Guangdong, without causing any illnesses along the way during this 1,000 kilometer trip? No one knows. Just like no one knows how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, leapt from bats to pangolins to humans.
(The most recent study, “Broad host range of SARS-CoV-2 predicted by comparative and structural analysis of ACE2 in vertebrates”26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,27showed that the SARS-CoV-2, which infects human cells through binding of the viral Spike protein to ACE2, has a “very high” binding affinity to ACE2 in “Old World” monkeys apes, and humans.
But in bats, the binding affinity is “low” and in pangolins it is “very low.” The authors also noted that “neither experimental infection nor in vitro infection with SARS-CoV-2 has been reported for pangolins.”)
Daszak continues to tell his bat-origin story,28 but the science doesn’t back it up. That ― along with the fact that dozens of labs conduct “gain-of-function”29 research on bat coronaviruses and there are troubling safety issues30 at these labs ― is why the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is investigating the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab.
Inquiring Minds at the NIH Want to Know
On July 8, the NIH sent a letter31 to Daszak asking EcoHealth Alliance to arrange for an inspection of the WIV by an outside team that would examine the facility’s lab and records “with specific attention to addressing the question of whether WIV staff had SARS-CoV-2 in their possession prior to December 2019.”
The WIV and the Wuhan University School of Public Health are listed as subcontractors for EcoHealth Alliance under a $3.7-million NIH grant32 titled, “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.”
The two institutions also worked as collaborators under another $2.6-million grant,33 “Risk of Viral Emergence from Bats,” and under EcoHealth Alliance’s largest single source of funding, a $44.2 million sub-grant34 from the University of California at Davis for the PREDICT project (2015-2020).
It’s the $44.2-million PREDICT grant that EcoHealth Alliance used to fund35 the gain-of-function experiment by WIV scientist Zhengli Shi and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Ralph Baric.36
Shi and Baric used genetic engineering and synthetic biology to create a “new bat SARS-like virus … that can jump directly from its bat hosts to humans.” Daszak described the work being done by Shi and Baric in a 2019 interview:37
“You can manipulate them [coronaviruses] in the lab pretty easily. Spike protein drives a lot of what happens with the coronavirus, zoonotic risk. So, you can get the sequence, you can build the protein, and we work with Ralph Baric at UNC to do this. Insert it into a backbone of another virus, and do some work in the lab.”
The work, “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence,”38 published in Nature in 2015 during the NIH’s moratorium39 on gain-of-function research, was grandfathered in because it was initiated before the moratorium (officially called the U.S. Government Deliberative Process Research Funding Pause on Selected Gain-of-Function Research Involving Influenza, MERS and SARS Viruses), and because the request by Shi and Baric to continue their research during the moratorium was approved by the NIH.
As a condition of publication, Nature, like most scientific journals, requires40 authors to submit new DNA and RNA sequences to GenBank, the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information Database. Yet the new SARS-like virus Shi and Baric created wasn’t deposited41 in GenBank until May 2020.
Why Stop With Wuhan?
NIH is right to require that the WIV’s lab and records be opened to outside inspectors. But why is the government focusing on just one of EcoHealth Alliance’s projects, when the organization has received $100.9 million42 in grants, primarily from the Department of Defense, to sample, store and study bat coronaviruses at labs around the world?
Coronaviruses, both those that have been collected from animals and those that have been created through genetic engineering and synthetic biology, at all of these labs should be compared with SARS-CoV-2.
Daszak’s collaborators working under contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) aren’t allowed to conduct gain-of-function research unless specifically approved to do so by the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight (P3CO) committee. This committee was set up as a condition for lifting43 the 2014-2017 moratorium on gain-of-function research.
The P3CO committee operates in secret. Not even a membership list has been released. The only information provided to the public is that Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec44 appointed HHS Senior Science Advisor Christian Hassell45 as its chair.
It’s time to open the records of the PC3O committee’s deliberations and decisions to examine all gain-of-function research on coronaviruses. And every lab manipulating these viruses should have their coronaviruses compared to SARS-CoV-2.
The Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for its Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (now called the Biological Threat Reduction Program) isn’t supposed to fund gain-of-function (what they call “dual-use”46) research at all.
It’s time to determine whether this prohibition on “dual-use” funding has been adhered to, especially in light of the investments the Pentagon is making across the globe in the construction of new laboratories for the “consolidation and securing of pathogens.” DTRA’s mission was to dismantle the biological weapons programs of hostile or destabilized countries.
Instead it is being used to develop new biological weapons programs in dozens of countries around the world.
Even if these programs are purely defensive, they proliferate, around the globe, pathogens with pandemic potential, even though it’s been difficult to keep these dangerous germs under control here in the U.S. (See “The Global Proliferation of High-Containment Biological Laboratories: Understanding the Phenomenon and Its Implications,”47 and the Government Accountability Office’s reports, “Biological Select Agents and Toxins: Actions Needed to Improve Management of DOD’s Biosafety and Biosecurity Program,”48 and “High-containment Laboratories: Comprehensive and Up-to-Date Policies and Stronger Oversight Mechanisms Needed to Improve Safety”49).
EcoHealth’s Tentacles Reach Far and Wide
EcoHealth Alliance is very much involved in the Pentagon’s proliferation of high-containment biological laboratories. It is conducting DTRA-funded work in the following countries, which are all participants in the Pentagon’s Biological Threat Reduction Program.50
• Tanzania — In Tanzania, a country that is considered only “partly free,”51 which has a history of foreign medical experimentation52 and which didn’t ratify the Biological Weapons Convention53until 2019, EcoHealth Alliance has a $5-million Pentagon contract,54 “Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever: Reducing an Emerging Health Threat in Tanzania.”
Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF)55 is a tick-borne disease, originally only infecting animals, that was discovered by Ottis and Calista Causey while working for the Rockefeller Foundation in Nigeria. There was only ever one case56 of CCHF in Tanzania, and that was in 1986.
Gain-of-function research57 on CCHF is being conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to determine the “mechanisms of CCHF transmission including development of CCHF tick and animal infection methods and CCHF tick-animal transmission models.” (The National Bio and Agro Defense Facility will take over the mission of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and become the lead facility for Foreign Animal Disease research.)
The National Bio and Agro Defense Facility Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) Zoonotic and Emerging Infectious Disease team’s CCHF Virus Surveillance Project58 is investigating “the interface between tick vectors, livestock and pastoralist and resource-poor farming communities in Tanzania” as well as the disease’s “molecular pathogenesis.”
Tanzania is the origin of chikungunya,59 a mosquito-borne virus that the U.S. has long cultivated60 as a potential biological weapon. according to a patent61 held by the University of Texas for a “chimeric” chikungunya virus created through genetic engineering and synthetic biology:
“The 39 documented laboratory infections reported by HHS in 1981 strongly suggest that Chikungunya virus is infectious via aerosol route. Chikungunya virus was being weaponized by the U.S. Army army when the offensive program was terminated.”
Tanzania is one62 of the countries where bat coronaviruses were collected for the PREDICT63project. Tanzania has one Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratory, the privately owned Ifakara Health Institute,64 which is partnering with PREDICT65 to launch “concurrent surveillance of wildlife and people in at-risk areas for viral spillover and spread.”
• South Africa — In South Africa, which had a notorious apartheid-era biological weapons program,66 EcoHealth Alliance has a $5-million Pentagon contract67 (2019-2024), “Reducing the Threat of Rift Valley Fever Through Ecology, Epidemiology and Socio-economics.” This is on top of a $4.9-million grant68 (2014-2019), “Understanding Rift Valley Fever in the Republic of South Africa.”
The last human outbreak69 of Rift Valley Fever in South Africa occurred in 2010, when the government reported 237 confirmed cases, including 26 deaths from nine provinces. But there were also a few cases70 in 2018 among farmworkers who slaughtered infected animals during an outbreak in livestock. The fever can spread from animals to humans if they come into contact with the blood and other body fluids of an infected animal.
The U.S. military has conducted offensive biological weapons research71 on Rift Valley Fever. South Africa’s biological weapons program72 included the weaponization of Rift Valley Fever virus obtained from the U.S. government.
Known as Project Coast, South Africa’s biological weapons program murdered anti-apartheid activists with narcotics and poisons, and attempted a genocide of the black majority by spreading AIDS73 and by developing pathogens and vaccines74 that would selectively attack black people with illness, death and infertility.
Dr. Wouter Basson,75 the project’s top scientist, told Pretoria High Court in South Africa that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency threatened him with death, presumably to prevent him from revealing the deep connections between Project Coast and the U.S., which had forced President F. W. de Klerk to shut down the project and destroy its records.
Basson named the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as his source of eight shipments76 of Ebola, Marburg and Rift Valley viruses, but claimed that he had obtained the viruses by posing as a medical researcher and hiding his affiliation with the South African Defense Forces.
Surveys of bats in South Africa found no evidence77 of bats being natural carriers of Rift Valley Fever virus, but experiments have shown that bats can be infected78 with it in a laboratory setting.
A bat coronavirus collected79 in South Africa in 2011 was thought to be the closest known relative of the MERS-CoV virus that emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012, until a 100-percent match for MERS-CoV was detected by Daszak and his colleagues in viral RNA fragments from an Egyptian tomb bat80 found near the home of one of the first MERS victims in Saudi Arabia.
• Liberia — In Liberia, which didn’t ratify the Biological Weapons Convention until 2016,81EcoHealth Alliance has a $4.91-million82 Pentagon contract,83 “Reducing the Threat from High-risk Pathogens Causing Febrile Illness in Liberia.” Febrile illnesses include Ebola, which has been the subject of some of the most controversial dual-use research.84
While the U.S. has a sordid history of biological weapons experimentation on its own people — with conscientious objectors,85 military “volunteers,”86 and the general public87 as frequent subjects — there were some biological weapons tests88 the Department of Defense considered too unethical to perform within the continental U.S. Those tests were conducted in other countries, including Liberia.89
Likewise, mirroring medical experimentation90 on African Americans, there is a history of colonial medical experimentation in Liberia going back to 1926 when the Firestone91 tire company financed surveys of local diseases they feared could curtail the profitability of their rubber plantations.
More recently, a failed Pentagon-funded Ebola drug trial92 caused many Liberians to suspect that the subsequent Ebola outbreak was the fault of Tekmira, the pharmaceutical company that created TKM-100802. Doubt surrounded the official story, promoted93 by Daszak, that the West African Ebola outbreak happened because bats flew in with the Ebola Zaire virus from 2,500 miles away.
In January 2014, the Phase I trial94 for TKM-100802 was launched, but put on clinical hold by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration due to high cytokine release in participants. In a dose-escalation, healthy volunteer study, one (of two) participants dosed at the highest level of 0·5 mg/kg experienced cytokine release syndrome.95
Cytokine release syndrome96 is a pro-inflammatory reaction that occurs when activated lymphocytes and/or myeloid cells release soluble immune mediators following administration of certain therapeutic agents, especially monoclonal antibodies. Onset can be rapid (within hours of administration) and can be life-threatening.
Ultimately, TKM-100802 proved useless97 for Ebola patients, but the Pentagon’s $140-million98investment, and the boost99 Tekmira’s stock experienced on speculation that Ebola would soon spawn the next $1-billion drug,100 made many investors rich.
Suspicions were raised because the TKM-100802 Phase I trial on healthy volunteers began in January 2014, before101 the first cases of the Ebola outbreak in March 2014.
Later, the World Health Organization’s Pierre Formenty traced the first case102 back to late December 2013, in Meliandou, Guinea. There, 50 meters from the home of patient zero, another researcher, Fabian Leendertz,103 found DNA fragments that matched the Angolan free-tailed bat, a species known to survive experimental infections with Ebola.
Then, Daszak’s EcoHealth team found viral RNA fragments104 of Ebola Zaire in a greater long-fingered bat, captured in 2016 in Liberia’s Sanniquellie-Mahn District, which borders Guinea. There was a 1982 article105 in Annals of Virology in which a trio of Germans reported finding Ebola antibodies in 26 of 433 Liberians (6%). Bats aren’t the only place to look for Ebola.
There’s a BSL-4 lab that was handling Zaire Ebola before the pandemic in Kenema, Sierra Leone. This is where international law attorney Francis Boyle,106 a drafter of the U.S. Biological Weapons and Anti-Terrorism Act passed into law in 1981, believes the pandemic originated.
There’s also Liberia’s Monkey Island. As the Washington Post reported,107 that’s where 66 chimpanzees have been since 2004, when they were abandoned by the American scientists at the Liberian labs of the New York Blood Center. From 1974 to 2004, the New York Blood Center captured wild chimps, engaged them in medical experimentation and then released them back into the jungle in a project known as Vilab II108 (Virology Lab II), which maintained a colony of 200 chimps.
Vilab II was built from the remnants of the Liberian Institute of Tropical Medicine. Built by Firestone in 1946, the Liberian Institute of Tropical Medicine had once employed 60 scientists, but by 1974, medical doctor Earl Reber109 was there alone with eight chimps. The roots of the Liberian Institute of Tropical Medicine go back to the research begun in 1926 by Harvard Department of Tropical Medicine chief Richard Pearson Strong.
Virus hunters like Daszak should have a keen interest in a population of chimpanzees that, for nearly 100 years, has been caught, injected with viruses and then released back into the wild, especially considering the work of the researchers who handled the chimps.
The New York Blood Center is at the center of a theory110 on the origin of HIV/AIDS, that it came from a contaminated Hepatitis B vaccine the center distributed to gay men from 1978-1981. The New York Blood Center also tested111 its vaccine on Liberians.
Richard Pearson Strong112 is infamous for killing 13 men when he infected a group of 24 inmates of Manila’s Bilibid Prison with plague through a contaminated cholera vaccine. That was prior to his work113 in Liberia, which is only now being explored, and also involved experiments with humans as well as chimpanzees.
• Georgia — EcoHealth Alliance has a $6.5-million Pentagon grant114 for “Understanding the Risk of Bat-borne Zoonotic Disease Emergence In Western Asia” (2017-2022).
Arms Watch115 reports that this grant involves genetic studies on coronaviruses in 5,000 bats collected in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Jordan. The studies were conducted at the Lugar Center, a $161-million Pentagon-funded biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. Russia claims116 the Georgia lab is the site of a U.S. biological weapons program.
According to USASpending.gov,117 EcoHealth Alliance has received $2.88 million in grants for work in Georgia. The Lugar Center is one of the labs that hosts EcoHealth Alliance’s Western Asia Bat Research Network.118
• Malaysia — In Malaysia, which is only now in the process of creating a legislative framework119for enforcing the Biological Weapons Convention, EcoHealth Alliance had a $1.6-million Pentagon grant120 (2017-2019) for “Serological Biosurveillance for Spillover of Henipaviruses and Filoviruses at Agricultural and Hunting Human Animal Interfaces in Peninsular Malaysia.”
There are no known cases of filovirus infections in humans in Malaysia. But Malaysia is the origin of the Nipah virus,121 first recognized in 1999, during an outbreak among farmers and farmworkers in factory farms and slaughterhouses producing pork.
The virus spread to Singapore. In all, there were 265 cases of acute encephalitis with 105 deaths, and the billion-dollar pig-farming industry nearly collapsed. No new outbreaks have been reported in Malaysia since 1999.
Nipah virus, a zoonotic pathogen for which no treatments exist, is the inspiration for the film “Contagion.”122 The virus can only be experimented on in BSL-4 laboratories. The National Bio and Agro-Defence Facility in Kansas will be the first biocontainment facility123 in the U.S. where research on Nipah and Ebola (a filovirus) can be conducted on livestock.
In 2019, Nipah Malaysia was among the deadly virus strains shipped124 from Canada’s National Microbiology Lab to the WIV. Henipaviruses,125 in the paramyxovirus family, were the first emerging diseases linked to bats.
In June 2012, in the same Chinese cave126 (actually an old copper mine where workers doing cleanup had become sick and died) in which Daszak’s WIV colleagues found SARS-CoV-2’s most closely related coronavirus, another frequent collaborator of Daszak’s, Zhiqiang Wu of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, found a new henipavirus-like pathogen in a rat, naming it the “Mojiang paramyxovirus,”127 after the county in Yunnan province where it was found.
Malaysia was the planned site of a BSL-4 laboratory run by the pharmaceutical company Emergent Biosolutions128 for the production of a halal version of the BioThrax vaccine. But that project failed.129
In addition to the Pentagon funding, Dazsak obtained $1.7 million in grants130 (2002-2005) from NIH’s Fogarty International Center for “Anthropogenic Change & Emerging Zoonotic Paramyxoviruses.” In 2012-2014, Daszak had a $569,700 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Service for “Development of a Great Ape Health Unit in Sabah, Malaysia.”
Daszak has a new National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant,131“Understanding Risk of Zoonotic Virus Emergence in EID Hotspots of Southeast Asia,” for $1.5 million (2020). The grant is for an “Emerging Infectious Diseases – South East Asia Research Collaboration Hub (EID-SEARCH)” that “brings leaders in emerging disease research from the U.S., Thailand, Singapore and the three major Malaysian administrative regions together to build an early warning system to safeguard against pandemic disease threats. This team will identify novel viruses from Southeast Asian wildlife [and] characterize their capacity to infect and cause illness in people …”
Other Pentagon Contracts
EcoHealth Alliance had a $1-million Pentagon contract132 (2017-2019) for an Inbound Bio-event Information System (IBIS), “a web-based application and early warning system for global infectious disease bio-events that threaten the U.S. via international transportation networks.”
EcoHealth Alliance also had another $4.5-million Pentagon contract (HDTRA115C0041133) for 2015-2017. No other information is available on this contract other than that it is for “Applied Research/Exploratory Development” in the “Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology).”
• Department of Homeland Security Contracts — EcoHealth Alliance has a $566,300 contract (2019-2021) with the Department of Homeland Security for the Rapid Evaluation of Pathogens to Prevent Epidemics in Livestock (REPEL) project134 “to apply biological-based, pathogen agnostic medical countermeasure vaccine and diagnostic platforms to develop foreign animal and emerging zoonotic livestock disease vaccines.”
• Department of Health and Human Services Funding — Daszak obtained a $300,000-grant135 in 2012 from NIH’s Fogarty International Center for research on “Comparative Spillover Dynamics of Avian Influenza In Endemic Countries.” While most of the research listed in the “results” section of the grant are flu-related, it also includes the WIV’s paper,136 “Isolation and Characterization of a Bat SARS-like Coronavirus that Uses the ACE2 Receptor.”137
Daszak was given $3.7 million in grants138 (2002-2012) from NIH’s Fogarty International Center for “The Ecology, Emergence And Pandemic Potential of Nipah Virus in Bangladesh.”
The grants Daszak used to support the work of the WIV were a $3.7-million grant139 (2014-2020) “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” and a $2.6-million grant140(2008-2012) “Risk of Viral Emergence From Bats,” each from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
• U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Funding
In Thailand, EcoHealth Alliance has a $647,200-grant141 for “One Health Workforce – Next Generation” (2019-2020).