After providing a platform for a massive 'Natural Origins' Covid-19 disinformation campaign by EcoHealth Alliance head Peter Daszak, The Lancet appears to have done a 180 - suggesting Covid-19 may have originated "in US laboratories engaged in the laboratory manipulation of SARS-CoV-like viruses," among other possibilities.
"No independent, transparent, and science-based investigation has been carried out regarding the bioengineering of SARS-like viruses that was underway before the outbreak of COVID-19," writes The Lancet's Covid-19 commission, following two years of work.
"Independent researchers have not yet investigated the US laboratories engaged in the laboratory manipulation of SARS-CoV-like viruses, nor have they investigated the details of the laboratory research that had been underway in Wuhan. Moreover, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has resisted disclosing details of the research on SARS-CoV-related viruses that it had been supporting, providing extensively redacted information only as required by Freedom of Information Act lawsuits."
Regular readers will recall that four months before the Obama administration outlawed 'gain-of-function' research on US soil, EcoHealth landed a lucrative NIH contract to offshore the risky research to Wuhan, China - where he was tasked with manipulating bat COVID to be more transmissible to humans.
Daszak notably also wanted to create 'chimeric viruses, genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily,' but his $14 million request to DARPA was declined for being too risky.
Angus Dalgleish, Professor of Oncology at St Georges, University of London, who struggled to get work published showing that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had been carrying out "gain of function" work for years before the pandemic, said the research may have gone ahead even without the funding.
"This is clearly a gain of function, engineering the cleavage site and polishing the new viruses to enhance human cell infectibility in more than one cell line," he said. -Telegraph
And after Sars-CoV-2 broke out in the same town where Daszak was manipulating Bat Covid, The Lancet published a screed by Daszak (signed by over two-dozen scientists), which insisted Covid could have only come from a natural spillover event, likely from a wet market, and that the scientists "stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin." The Lancet only later noted Daszak's conflicts of interest.
Now, The Lancet's Covid-19 Commission has kicked the door open to several new theories, including that Covid-19 could have been engineered in, or escaped from, US laboratories - and that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has "resisted disclosing the details of its work."
The full section in question:
As of the time of publication of this report, all three research-associated hypotheses are still plausible: infection in the field, infection with a natural virus in the laboratory, and infection with a manipulated virus in the laboratory. No independent, transparent, and science-based investigation has been carried out regarding the bioengineering of SARS-like viruses that was underway before the outbreak of COVID-19. The laboratory notebooks, databases, email records, and samples of institutions involved in such research have not been made available to independent researchers. Independent researchers have not yet investigated the US laboratories engaged in the laboratory manipulation of SARS-CoV-like viruses, nor have they investigated the details of the laboratory research that had been underway in Wuhan. Moreover, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has resisted disclosing details of the research on SARS-CoV-related viruses that it had been supporting, providing extensively redacted information only as required by Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.
In brief, there are many potential proximal origins of SARS-CoV-2, but there is still a shortfall of independent, scientific, and collaborative work on the issue. -The Lancet
As The Telegraph notes, the Lancet report comes as controversy swirls the Covid-19 Commission chair, economist Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, who said at a conference in Madrid earlier this year that he was "pretty convinced" Covid-19 "came out of a US lab of biotechnology, not out of nature," a claim promoted by Chinese diplomats.
Sachs also appeared on an August podcast hosted by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. - who has been criticized over his prominent anti-vaccine stance.
"Sachs' appearance on RFK Jr's podcast... undermines the seriousness of the Lancet Commission's mission to the point of completely negating it," said Prof Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Canada. "This may be one of the Lancet's most shameful moments regarding its role as a steward and leader in communicating crucial findings about science and medicine," she added.
Sachs stood by his previous comments, telling The Telegraph that he personally "oversaw this part of the work" on the emergency of Sars-Cov-2, after disbanding an initial task force headed by Daszak which was never re-formed.
"Everybody has signed off on the final text. The question of a possible laboratory release mostly involves the question of US-China joint work that was underway on Sars-like viruses," he said.
The Lancet Commission's report also criticized the World Health Organization over its slow reaction in the early days of the pandemic, suggesting it "repeatedly erred on the side of reserve rather than boldness," including a delay in calling a public health emergency, as well as a "hesitancy" to report that Covid spread via airborne transmission.
The UN health agency also "fell victim to the increasing tensions between the United States and China", the commissioners warned, adding that better international collaboration will be key to prevent epidemics becoming pandemics in future.
The WHO said it welcomed "the overarching recommendations", but said there were "several key omissions and misinterpretations" around the agency's initial response.
The researchers analysed the varying approaches to the disease around the world, too. The Western Pacific "stands out for its very low average mortality rate," possibly as the region's experience of the Sars epidemic in 2003 had left it better prepared to tackle new pathogens. -The Telegraph
According to a Lancet spokesperson, the journal "regularly evaluated the work of each Task Force as scientific evidence about Covid-19 evolved, to ensure that the final peer-reviewed report will provide valuable new insights to support a coordinated, global response to Covid-19 as well as to prevent future pandemics and contain future disease outbreaks."