The infamous letter was a clear attempt to cut off legitimate scientific inquiry regarding a coronavirus strain that was running rampant across the globe, ultimately killing millions. The Lancet published the letter condemning “conspiracy theories” that the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus did not have a “natural origin.” It would be held up by media publications around the world as an authoritative statement closing off public debate over the virus’s origins.
The combative wording of the letter, published early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, should have been a red flag for media publications that there may be conflicts of interest at play. A portion of the letter is provided below:
We sign this statement in solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China who continue to save lives and protect global health during the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak. We are all in this together, with our Chinese counterparts in the forefront, against this new viral threat.
The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin. Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.
The Lancet appears to have determined that was exactly the case: There was a conflict of interest, specifically by Dr. Peter Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance, as he tacitly admitted in an email exchange that will be provided below. But first, here is The Lancet‘s update on the Wuhan “conspiracy theory” letter, as was recently reported by Human Events:
In February 2020, 27 public health experts co-authored a Correspondence in The Lancet (“Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of China combatting COVID-19”), supporting health professionals and physicians in China during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this letter, the authors declared no competing interests. Some readers have questioned the validity of this disclosure, particularly as it relates to one of the authors, Peter Daszak.
We will continue to follow this story, as the nation braces for the Covid-19 variant being widely discussed, particularly in light of the Olympics location in Beijing, China. One thing is very clear, Dr. Daszak and his relationship to the Wuhan Institute for Virology created a clear conflict of interest.
It now seems that the clearly written and concise statement acknowledging what is precisely the case has been “updated” to be a more ambiguous statement:
“There may be differences in opinion as to what constitutes a competing interest,” it now weakly notes. “With these facts in mind, The Lancet invited the 27 authors of the letter to re-evaluate their competing interests. Peter Daszak has expanded on his disclosure statements for three pieces relating to COVID-19 that he co-authored or contributed to in The Lancet—the February, 2020, Correspondence,1 as well as a Commission Statement3 and a Comment for the Lancet COVID-19 Commission.”
Daszak then updated his disclosure statement, which is merely a mission statement (readers can find his full statement at The Lancet).
This updated statement does absolutely nothing to address the crux of the conflict of interest problem, which is that Peter Daszak influenced scientists to called the Wuhan lab origin hypothesis a “conspiracy theory” in order to influence the media and shut down scientific inquiry and public debate.
It should be noted that several of the scientists who signed The Lancet letter have since changed their positions, a report from journalist Alexandros Marinos shows. Furthermore, several of the signatories are connected to EcoHealth, the controversial scientific group that funneled millions in U.S. taxpayer money to the Wuhan laboratory.
“The Lancet letter of Feb 18, 2020, sent a message to scientists the world over: Investigate a lab leak, and you will be tarred as conspiracy theorist,” Marinos wrote. “Was it a honest outpouring of support? Or astroturfing?”
“To start, of the 27 signatories, 7 were affiliated with EcoHealth Alliance: Peter Daszak (President), Rita Colwell & James Hughes (BoD members), William Karesh (EVP for Health and Policy), Hume Field, Juan Lubroth, John MacKenzie (Science and Policy Advisors),” he points out.
“The fact that a quarter of the signatories were affiliated with EHA was hidden,” he noted.
Marinos then produces a quite stunning email that lays out the connection between EcoHealth Alliance and the letter signatories.
“I spoke with Linfa last night about the statement we sent round,” Daszak’s email states. “He thinks, and I agree with him, that you, me and him should not sign this statement, so it has some distance from us and therefore doesn’t work in a counterproductive way.”
This is information that The Lancet should be sharing openly with the readers of the Wuhan “conspiracy theory” letter. Additionally, it isn’t the only time that Peter Daszak has been caught in a conflict of interest controversy. National Pulse reporter Natalie Winters noted that Daszak appears to have lied about never receiving funding from China. Winters reported on the conflict of interest in February and recently provided the following video evidence:
🚨Peter Daszak’s recent claim he never “received funding” from China is a total LIE.
He admitted to collaborating with “scientists in the government of China for over 15 years, supported by federal funding from the U.S. and federal funding from China” in 2018. pic.twitter.com/eHA81RfFTd
— Natalie Winters (@nataliegwinters) June 22, 2021
“In April 2020, Daszak told the Washington Post he had ‘no conflicts of interest,’ despite working with the Wuhan lab for nearly 20 years,” Winters reports. “Daszak was Project Leader on a $3.7 million ‘grant supporting bat coronavirus surveillance at Wuhan Institute of Virology and… bat coronavirus gain-of-function research at Wuhan Institute of Virology’.”
Daszak revealed on the China Global Television Network that he “has been working in China in collaboration with Chinese scientists and the government of China for over 15 years supported by federal funding from the U.S. and federal funding from China.”
It appears that the real “conspiracy” was that Daszak and his EcoHealth Alliance colleagues worked to influence the media to shut off vital scientific inquiry and public debate over a deadly viral pandemic. There is now a semblance of accountability over the scientific community’s irresponsible reaction, but unless the broader news media and the public learn their lesson, it may prove to be too little, too late.
Editor’s note: This article was lightly edited after publication for brevity.