From ‘conspiracy theory’ to ‘cover-up’? Agencies hid 2018 pitch to fund chimeric coronavirus

The onetime lab-leak “conspiracy” has come full circle with the revelation that 15 federal agencies, from the National Institutes of Health to three Cabinet-level departments and multiple components, could have warned the public as early as 2018 of the research planned by China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology and EcoHealth Alliance, its nonprofit conduit for federal funding.

The Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML), part of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases led by Anthony Fauci for four decades, was even listed as a “partner” for the WIV project known as DEFUSE, for which EcoHealth President Peter Daszak sought funding at an interagency pitch day for the Preventing Emerging Pathogenic Threats program.

That’s all according to the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, who asked the 15 agency heads in separate letters Tuesday for more information by April 23 on their “knowledge and involvement” with DEFUSE and PREEMPT. 

Paul identified other listed partners including the University of North Carolina Baric Lab run by Ralph Baric, who collaborated directly with WIV. Baric said he discussed “the outbreak and chimeras” with Fauci in February 2020, according to a former colleague recounting a conversation with Baric.

Another is the Columbia University Lipkin Lab run by Ian Lipkin, who originally told Fauci there was a “nightmare of circumstantial evidence” tying WIV to SARS-CoV-2. Lipkin then coauthored the Proximal Origin paper dismissing lab-leak, which Fauci and then-NIH Director Francis Collins covertly shaped

While Fauci denied under oath that EcoHealth’s Daszak was even an “acquaintance,” he gave a half-hour presentation in a workshop session moderated by Daszak on “emerging viral diseases,” former New York Times drug industry reporter Alex Berenson noted on X

“Lying under oath is one of those crimes that only counts when you contradict establishment narratives,” independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote on X, referring to Berenson’s claim that Fauci perjured himself.

Paul wrote an essay recently for Fox News on the “Great COVID Cover-up” revealed by his new investigation, part of a much larger probe into COVID origins.

NIH, NIAID, the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development and seven others “with knowledge of this project have continuously refused to release any information concerning this alarming and dangerous research,” Paul wrote.

A libertarian thorn in the side of both parties who even referred Fauci to the Justice Department for prosecution, Paul is one of the few senators to continually press the feds for what they knew before SARS-CoV-2 emerged. 

At a hearing last month Paul railed against what he considers federal obstruction and slow-walking of his requests for information COVID origins, responding with “blanket refusals to disclose thousands of relevant documents” and heavy redactions. 

He accused the feds of contempt for Freedom of Information Act requests, including a top Fauci adviser telling virus researchers not to use his government email and saying he would “delete anything I don’t want to see in the New York Times.”

proponent of the intelligence declassification that President Biden signed into law a year ago, Paul said it’s been a flop, as “Congress only received an insufficient summary that members are forbidden from sharing with the public.”

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson asked DoD for an explanation more than two years ago when a Marine Corps fellow at DARPA, Major Joseph Murphy, blew the whistle internally on DEFUSE. 

Murphy said DARPA rejected the EcoHealth pitch because it was “too close to violating” the federal moratorium on gain-of-function research, which seeks to learn what viruses might do next but also makes them more lethal, transmissible or both. Texas is apparently the first state to consider banning GoF research on “potential pandemic pathogens” by its educational institutions in the absence of congressional action.

The House Oversight Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic have been far more aggressive, prompting Democrats to respond to the steady disclosure of Fauci’s early 2020 communications with scientists about the unlikely features SARS-CoV-2 by tarring their witnesses as racists and conspiracy theorists.

The subcommittee said Fauci repeatedly claimed he could not recall important details about COVID-19 origins, GoF research or related conversations in transcribed interviews, though the transcript won’t be released until lawyers for Fauci, Republicans and Democrats review it.

Fauci will reportedly receive a record-breaking $350,000-plus in the first year of his retirement pension.

RML Virus Ecology Section Chief Vincent Munster‘s involvement in DEFUSE and “NIH’s participation in the PREEMPT Proposers Day,” which DARPA hosted in January 2018, “raises serious concerns” and “appears to contradict” Fauci’s testimony that NIH didn’t know about DEFUSE, Paul wrote to NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli

His letter to DARPA asked for all video recordings from the January 2018 PREEMPT Proposers Day and all pitch-day events “related to infectious disease” going back to 2014.

Former EcoHealth executive Andrew Huff claims DARPA tried to hire him in a “highly suspect” recruitment in fall 2019, the likely period for the first novel coronavirus infections in Hubei province.

Hubei’s Wuhan is home to both WIV and the Huanan “wet market” long touted as the definitive source of a naturally evolved SARS-CoV-2, despite the acknowledged absence of evidence that far-away pangolins with a similar viral sequence were sold there.

The FBI immediately suspected WIV as the source of the outbreak and later concluded COVID leaked from a lab, followed by the Department of Energy

“Anyone who knew about the 2018 application … to engineer human optimized furin cleavage sites into SARS coronaviruses but who did not speak up when it became clear such a novel coronavirus was responsible for the #COVID19 pandemic has significant accounting to do,” Jamie Metzl, a former Clinton administration official and World Health Organization adviser, wrote on X. 

Metzl testified at the first GOP-led COVID subcommittee hearing that his informal group of COVID origins experts that leaned toward lab-leak had “zero success” placing papers in scientific journals the first year of the pandemic.

“At a minimum, everyone associated with the DEFUSE proposal should be permanently debarred from receiving future federal funding,” Rutgers University genetics professor Bryce Nickels wrote on X

The Biosafety Now cofounder recently denounced an NIH-funded Colorado State University bat research lab for not publicly reporting more than five dozen lab accidents in three years.

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