The Chairman of a Lancet-affiliated panel of scientists looking into the origins of Covid says he has disbanded the commission because of its ties to Peter Daszak, the President of EcoHealth Alliance who proposed in 2018 to use U.S. money to fund gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. MailOnline has the story.
Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday that he was concerned with the links to Daszak, who led the task force until recusing himself from that role in June.
Daszak, who lives in New York, devoted his career to championing so-called ‘gain of function’ research to engineer coronavirus to be more deadly to humans, arguing that it was the best chance to detect and prevent a global pandemic.
Shocking documents released this week revealed his 2018 proposal to help the Wuhan Institute of Virology engineer bat coronaviruses to be more deadly, by inserting genetic features that are similar to those found in SARS-CoV-2.
There is still no conclusive proof as to whether Covid, a coronavirus linked to bats, first jumped to humans from a wild animal or in a lab setting.
But from the early days of the pandemic, Daszak has made every effort to paint the lab origin hypothesis as a “conspiracy theory”, including masterminding a letter in the Lancet that established a veneer of scientific consensus that natural origin was the only possibility. …
Several members of the disbanded Lancet task force have collaborated with Daszak or EcoHealth Alliance on projects in the past.
“I just didn’t want a task force that was so clearly involved with one of the main issues of this whole search for the origins, which was EcoHealth Alliance,” Dr. Sachs told the journal.
Sachs said a new Lancet Covid Commission would continue studying the origins for a report to be published in mid-2022, but broaden its scope to include input from other experts on biosafety concerns, including risky laboratory research.
It comes just days after the release of bombshell documents showing Daszak’s 2018 funding request to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seeking $14.2 million to fund gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab.
The proposal, titled Project DEFUSE, was leaked to independent researchers with the DRASTIC research team.
In it Daszak requests funding for an elaborate project to genetically enhance coronaviruses and inoculate bats in Yunnan, China in the hopes of stopping new viruses jumping from bats to humans.
The funding request was denied by DARPA, but the proposal reveals a shocking line of research that could have conceivably been carried out independently by Chinese members of Daszak’s team, who included the infamous ‘bat woman’ Shi Zhengli.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: In a further blow to its reputation, the latest issue of the Lancet has a bizarre cover describing women as “bodies with vaginas”. Apparently, editor Richard Horton thought this would endear him to female scientists. MailOnline has more.
The Lancet was accused of sexism and dehumanising women after it editors used the term, which was written in an article titled ‘Periods on Display’, on the journal’s front cover in an attempt to be inclusive to trans people.
The article, which was published on September 1st, examines an exhibition exploring the taboos and history of periods at the Vagina Museum in London and sees the writer use the word “women” but also use the term “bodies with vaginas”.
The quote, which was then used on the journal’s front page, read: “Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected.”
However the move to display the quote on the journal’s front cover has been met with criticism, with some academics calling it “insulting and abusive” and a “misguided pursuit of woke points”.
Meanwhile others said they had cancelled their subscriptions with the peer-reviewed medical journal – which was founded in 1823.
It comes just months after critics lambasted Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust after it told staff to use terms like “birthing parents” and “human milk” rather than referring to “mothers” and “breast milk”.
Worth reading in full.