By John Duffy

Dancing Between the Raindrops

On February third, as the car he was being driven in passed awaiting reporters outside of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Peter Daszak rolled down his window. He yelled to the journalists that his team was “asking all the questions that need to be asked.” Daszak was referring to the team of scientists and researchers assembled by the WHO to investigate the origins of the SARS-COV-2 virus.

By February tenth, the WHO envoy was declaring to the world that there was no longer a need to investigate the possibility that the virus that causes Covid19 leaked from the WIV, and Daszak himself was giving interviews declaring the likelihood that the virus was brought to Wuhan in some sort of frozen food, possibly from another south Asian country. The Chinese government was very happy with this outcome.

The problems with this are many. For one, it seemed very bizarre to those who have been following the story of SARS-COV-2’s origins, that this very late investigation of the virology lab that just happened to study SARS-like coronaviruses from bats that just happened to be in the city where the outbreak began, would include Peter Daszak on it’s investigatory team at all. Daszak is the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, which is a non-profit NGO whose mission includes pandemic prevention. That might not seem like a conflict of interest, until you realize that the EcoHealth alliance has been funneling grant money from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense to the WIV for almost two decades, with moneys specifically being given to the lab of Shi Zhengli, who is China’s foremost researcher of SARS-like coronaviruses.

In 2017, the paper “Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronaviruswas published with both Shi Zhengli and Peter Daszak listed as authors. In 2018, the EcoHealth Alliance released a press statement stating, “EcoHealth Alliance scientists, in partnership with Wuhan Institute of Virology and Duke-NUS, found SARSr-CoVs in bat caves near Jinning in Yunnan Province.” (Yunnan also happens to be the province where Mojiang is, and Mojiang happens to be where six miners digging bat guano out of a cave came down with a Covid19-like illness back in 2012, which I discussed in part four of this series.)

Famously, Donald Trump decried NIH funding finding it’s way to the WIV early into the Covid19 pandemic, and by April 27th of 2019, Politico reported that Trump directed the NIH to halt it’s funding of the EcoHealth Alliance, stating,

The National Institutes of Health on Friday told EcoHealth Alliance, the study’s sponsor for the past five years, that all future funding was cut. The agency also demanded that the New York-based research nonprofit stop spending the $369,819 remaining from its 2020 grant, according to emails obtained by POLITICO.

(The NIH did end up giving the EcoHealth Alliance a new grant in August of 2019)

“Why,” we must ask, “would Peter Daszak, a long time colleague of Shi Zhengli, whose organization has been a long time collaborator with the WIV, be an appropriate member of a supposedly independent team sent by the WHO, to investigate possible culpability on the part of the WIV?” If actually getting to the bottom of the issue of where SARS-COV-2 came from is your goal, why would you send a man who has so much to lose to investigate the most likely culprit?

When I wrote “The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror,” back in 2017, I wasn’t trying to just write another book to finger wag at the intelligence agencies for their torture and drone programs, or for failing to properly share necessary information with their bureaucratic rivals. My goal was to present a case study in how power players avoid accountability. From the moment the first World Trade tower was hit with an airplane on the morning of September 11th, 2001, there were people in D.C. starting to wonder if the tragedy unfolding before them was their fault. When a new coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, and Shi Zhengli was told to drop everything and investigate it, she wondered if the virus could have come from her lab.

Of course, no one wants to be held responsible for a major catastrophe that causes wide scale death. Further, no one whose years of work was ostensibly trying to prevent a global pandemic, wants to then have the world come to know that in fact, their work caused a pandemic. So again, why would the WHO, if they truly wanted to know where SARS-COV-2 came from, allow Peter Daszak to be a part of the investigation? Why would they want him doing media appearances that declare the lab leak hypothesis closed, and instead steer people towards a contrary hypothesis that has absolutely no scientific backing?

As the month of February progressed, other members of the WHO envoy to China have spoken out about their doubts. For instance, Professor Dominic Dwyer,  a microbiologist and infectious diseases expert with Australia’s NSW Health said:

“I think it started in China. I think the evidence for it starting elsewhere in the world is actually very limited. There is some evidence but it’s not really very good.”

Danish team member, the epidemiologist Thea Kolsen Fischer said that the team was not given the WIV’s raw data, but was only given analysis of that data previously done by the Chinese, and she said that this was not usual.

And according to Agence France Press, the WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan “had previously said that there is “no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission.”

I cannot help but be reminded of the shenanigans surrounding the investigations into 9-11. I don’t know if many people recall, but the Bush administration was none too keen on their being a commission to investigate the attacks, and only eventually agreed to one after so much pressure was placed on them by families of the 9-11 victims and their few allies in the media. When the administration did agree to establish a commission, the first person selected to be the chairman was none other than Henry Kissinger. Kissinger quickly resigned the position rather than make public the clients list at his private firm, Kissinger Associates. Right before he resigned the position, in fact, a group of 9-11 widows were granted a private meeting with Kissinger, and they pointedly asked him if he had any clients by the name of Bin-Laden. They claim in that moment, he near fell off his couch.

Remember, the administration tried first to not hold a commission, just as China spent a year trying to prevent any investigation of the WIV as the source of the SARS-COV-2 leak. When it was clear a 9-11 commission must happen, those in power with something to lose did their best to stack the deck, first with Kissinger, and then by installing Philip Zelikow as the executive director. Zelikow was famously a friend and former colleague of then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

How those most responsible in the US government, from the intelligence agencies to the presidential administration got away clean from bearing any responsibility for the 9-11 attacks, even after some like CIA Director George Tenet perjured themselves before the Commission , as if they were all just dancing between the raindrops of accountability, is almost a blueprint for what we see happening in China with the great likelihood that SARS-COV-2 was released from the WIV. First there is broad denial and a claim that those involved already did a thorough self-investigation. Then when there is a push for an outside look, there is an attempt to stonewall it. Then after long delays which serve to further bury the truth, finally an independent investigation is allowed, but the deck is stacked with investigators who have conflicts of interest, and those who don’t are not given the relevant documents or data, and finally, when an arbitrary time limit is met, a broad declaration is made that captures headlines claiming, “Nothing to see here!” leaving only the most invested and astute to call from the back corners that in fact, there are now more questions than ever.

The fact is, right now, the lab leak hypothesis is the most credible explanation for the origin of SARS-COV-2. Dr.’s Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson again released another editorial this week digging into the facts regarding the genetic fingerprints of SARS-COV-2, and everyone should read it. In their piece, they go to great lengths to explain the family tree of coronaviruses, and point out that SARS-COV-2:

“…emerged from the same species as the original SARS, hence its name. As noted above, this particular species is known to taxonomists as the “SARS-related coronaviruses” after its then most famous member.

As discussed, from a zoonotic perspective, nothing appears to be special about these SARS-related coronaviruses. Consequently, the emergence of a second pandemic virus from the same coronavirus species constitutes a second surprising coincidence.

They go on to calculate the probability that SARS-COV-2 had a natural zoonotic origin, and come to the conclusion that:

“…if one accepts as reasonable the assumptions made above, the probability of Wuhan being the site of a natural SARS-related coronavirus outbreak is obtained by multiplying 1 in 630 by 1 in 28. The chance of Wuhan hosting a SARS-related coronavirus outbreak is thus 17,640–1.

(Obviously, read their piece to know where those numbers come from.)

As it stands, there is no good alternative hypothesis to the idea that the WIV accidentally leaked SARS-COV-2 into the world. Without finding an animal host in which the nearest SARS-like virus evolved, and then tracing it’s path to Wuhan, while adequately explaining how no one else was infected along the way, those who have the most to lose from the truth being exposed – Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, Shi Zhengli of the WIV, the Chinese government, and even researchers worldwide who make a living doing gain of function research in virology labs – will continue to insist that the lab leak hypothesis has been debunked, and that anyone still talking about it is a conspiracy theorist. They will sing this tune for as long as they have to until all interest wanes, tip-tapping their toes as they deflect any accountability that may have otherwise come their way.

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