The Intercept's New COVID Report Confirms What RedState Reported in May 2021

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The Intercept released a report Sunday stating that “new details” have emerged in the quest to determine the origin of COVID-19.  The report, which features “more than 900 pages of materials related to US-funded coronavirus research in China,” contains documents pertaining to an NIH-funded study titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence” which was performed by EcoHealth Alliance at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  While I certainly respect The Intercept for reporting this information, it certainly isn’t the first time it has been reported, as we have been reporting on this at RedState since May.

As regular readers are aware, after Dr. Fauci testified to Senator Rand Paul that the US had not funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a hearing in May, I looked into the funding mechanisms that may have proven Fauci’s statements untrue. I was shocked to see study after study, conducted in concert with Dr. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, funded either directly or through an intermediary like Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance. There were also funding streams and shared research through UNC’s Dr. Ralph Baric, often referred to as the “Father of Gain-of-Function Research.”

The Intercept’s new report references the grant to EcoHealth Alliance for the “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence” study as though the information was not previously known.

From The Intercept:

“One of the grants, titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” outlines an ambitious effort led by EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak to screen thousands of bat samples for novel coronaviruses. The research also involved screening people who work with live animals. The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed. The documents raise additional questions about the theory that the pandemic may have begun in a lab accident, an idea that Daszak has aggressively dismissed.”

On May 13th, 2021, I wrote an article at RedState titled, “Dr. Fauci’s Testimony to Rand Paul on ‘Gain-of-Function’ Research Certainly Seems Like It Was Untrue” referencing grants given through EcoHealth Alliance. Among the grants reference and linked was R01AI110964, the very grant that The Intercept is reporting is new information.

“Fauci said WIV is not *now* receiving money from NIH, implying that it had in the past. Why would he insert that qualifying word “now,” you ask? Well, WIV received NIH grant funds as a subcontractor to EcoHealth Alliance, a New York City-based nonprofit that since 2004 has “collaborated with Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers and others to study coronaviruses in bats in China and how they infect people.” The Wall Street Journal reports that in a 2018 WIV study resulting from a $3.4 million grant to EcoHealth Alliance, “the researchers found evidence that people living near the caves had been infected with viruses resembling the one that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome” (SARS).”

In fact, in a follow-up regarding my initial article, RedState Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar, also reported on June 6th, 2021 that Fauci lied to Senator Paul:

Fauci also approved a $3.7 million grant to Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance — of which $500,000 was sent to Wuhan — in June 2014 (during the moratorium) for a study titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.” Its purpose:

“This project seeks to understand what factors allow animal Coronaviruses to evolve and jump into the human population by studying virus diversity in a critical group of animals (bats), at sites of high risk for emergence (wildlife markets) in an emerging disease hotspot (China).”

The Intercept went on to discuss the risks associated with conducting this sort of research discussing the matter with a molecular biologist:

Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute, said the documents show that EcoHealth Alliance has reason to take the lab-leak theory seriously. “In this proposal, they actually point out that they know how risky this work is. They keep talking about people potentially getting bitten — and they kept records of everyone who got bitten,” Chan said. “Does EcoHealth have those records? And if not, how can they possibly rule out a research-related accident?”

Again, we already reported (as did Politico) on this risk back in May 2021:

Furthermore, Politico reported that US diplomats in China had been sending warnings to State Department bureaucrats in Washington DC regarding the WIV as far back as December 2017, specifically stating that the lab had “a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.” There was no action taken, and the NIH continued to fund the research conducted there.

The Intercept then goes on to discuss the fact that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak is closely related to another virus found in China, leading to the presumption that it could have been the virus which was being experimented upon, or that it made the zoonotic jump from bats to humans.

“The closest relative of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, is a virus found in bats, making the animals a focal point for efforts to understand the origins of the pandemic.”

That virus, named RaTG13, was discovered in the Yunnan Province of China in 2013 after infecting and killing miners who came in contact with bats in caves there. Again, RedState reported on this in June 2021.  The Washington Post published an opinion piece that month entitled ” We may never know where the virus came from. But evidence still suggests nature,”  which suggests that the virus couldn’t have come from the lab because it was different than SARS-CoV-2.  I analyzed that point:

“The Wuhan institute’s most recent chimeric virus used a very different coronavirus as its genetic backbone.”

Funny that the link to the chimeric virus study, (which again, is literally the creation of recombinant viruses, which the authors previously stated was only natural) is from a study done by the Wuhan Lab itself and not analyzed by any outside scientists. In fact, it is inarguable that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducting research on RaTG13, the closest genetic relative to SARS-CoV-2 before the outbreak of COVID-19.  While doctors like to claim the difference of 1,000 nucleotides between RaTG13, they fail to mention that 96.4% genomic code and over 28,500 nucleotides that the two do share.  Again, if you’re failing to mention these facts, what are you hiding?

The additional frustrating part of all this is that The Intercept likely made their FOIA request for the documents after I did, but yet still were able to receive the information promptly.  As for my FOIA requests regarding the COVID-19 origin investigation, I am conducting?  Well, the NIA and NIAID have already made it known exactly how they feel about RedState’s efforts, as reported in “A Tale Of Two FOIAs”:

“As part of most FOIA requests (I have made numerous FOIA requests in the past), there are two questions regarding providing the information.  The first is whether or not you qualify for expedited filing and the second is whether or not you qualify for a fee waiver.  On my NIAID FOIA, I requested both expedited processing and a fee waiver.  Imagine my surprise, that despite being clearly in an act of investigative journalism (informing the public regarding the operations of a Federal Agency is one of the exemptions), the NIAID denied my expedited request.  Essentially, it was a slap to my face and the face of RedState, stating that neither I nor RedState amounted to “real journalism.”  Additionally, they stated that we would likely have to pay for the information because they had yet to make a determination on our fee waiver request.”

While the details above are alarming in themselves, the issue that The Intercept completely misses is a huge one:  The fact that all gain of function research and funding thereof was banned by the US Government during the entire time that the NIH, NIAID, and EcoHealth Alliance was conducting this research at the Wuhan Insitute of Virology:

New USG funding will not be released for gain-of-function research projects that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility in mammals via the respiratory route. The research funding pause would not apply to characterization or testing of naturally occurring influenza, MERS, and SARS viruses, unless the tests are reasonably anticipated to increase transmissibility and/or pathogenicity.

Funding for the same type of research was also continued for Ralph Baric at UNC.

Stay tuned to RedState as we continue to lead the story on the origins of COVID-19.