New Details Emerge About Coronavirus Research at Chinese Lab

Recently released documents give details of U.S. funded research on coronaviruses at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Intercept obtained over nine hundred pages of documents detailing work of the EcoHealth Alliance. This U.S.-based organization funded bat coronavirus research at a Chinese laboratory. This archive contains two grant proposals previously unpublished that were funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Project updates also relate to EcoHealth Alliances research. These documents have been closely scrutinized as more attention has been paid to the causes of the pandemic. The documents were made public in the context of ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation against The Intercept and National Institutes of Health. The Intercept will make the entire documents public. The document is a guide to high-risk research that could be responsible for the current pandemic. Gary Ruskin, the executive director of U.S. Right To Know is a group that studies the origins and spread of Covid-19. One grant, Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence outlines the ambitious effort of EcoHealth Alliance president Peter Daszak, to screen thousands more bat samples for new coronaviruses. Screening people who work with animals was part of the research. These documents reveal important details about Wuhan's research, including that the key experimental work with humanized mouse was done at a biosafety-level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment, and not at Wuhan Institute of Virology as previously thought. Additional questions are raised by the documents about the possibility that the pandemic started in a laboratory accident. Daszak vigorously rejected this theory.
The EcoHealth Alliance received a grant for bat coronavirus. This included $599,000 that was used by the Wuhan Institute of Virology to help identify and alter bat coronaviruses that could infect humans. Many scientists were aware of the dangers that such experiments could pose, even before the pandemic. The grant proposal recognizes that there are some dangers. Fieldwork can expose you to SARS and other CoVs. It also involves working in caves where bat density is high overhead. This could lead to fecal dust inhalation. They actually make it clear in their proposal that they are aware of the risks involved in this work. Chan stated that they keep talking about the possibility of people being bitten and kept track of all those who were bitten. Do EcoHealth have these records? If not, how do they know if EcoHealth has those records? After reviewing the documents, Ebright informed The Intercept that they had tested the viruses for their ability infect mice with human-type receptors. Ebright stated that documents clearly show that two types of novel coronaviruses could infect humanized mice. Ebright stated that while they were working on SARS-related Coronavirus they were also working on MERS-related Coronavirus. This refers to the virus which causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.


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