Peter Daszak and his Ecohealth Alliance is at the center of all this--their collaboration with WIV, their proposal to DARPA to insert furin cleavage sites in a SARs-like coronavirus. Though not funded the concern is that the work might have gone on anyway at WIV/North Carolina at Ralph Baric's lab. An excerpt of an interview of Peter Daszak
"Did EcoHealth Alliance or the Wuhan Institute of Virology, through its partnership with EcoHealth Alliance, ever insert a furin cleavage site into a bat coronavirus genetic sequence?"
"Of course we did not do that. I really don’t understand how that could be a question at this point — it’s beyond the pale. That’s not in our plans and it’s not any of our reports, so of course we didn’t do that."
"But isn’t it the case that you submitted a grant proposal to DARPA to do so?"
"We did submit a proposal to DARPA. I’ve not checked through the one that’s online that it’s the correct document. What I do know is it was widely reported that DARPA rejected that because there were concerns about safety issues. That is absolutely untrue. The document that allegedly is DARPA’s response, their review of our proposal, I’ve never seen that before. It was never sent to us. I don’t know if it’s real.
DARPA had a process by which people who didn’t get funded could do an interview with them to find out why they didn’t get funded. So I did that. Never once did they mention any concerns or issues around safety; never once did they mention gain-of-function. The reason they told us it was rejected was because the amount we asked for was too much for them. They couldn’t afford it. They actually encouraged us to resubmit in different ways. We then had protracted conversations with them about funding specific parts of it. They liked the proposal."
"Was any of the work described in that proposal completed prior to its submission? We were told by multiple sources that when you submit a grant, that at least some of the work would have been done."
"When you write a grant proposal and propose to do a new line of research, which is what we did, we would not be doing that research before we submit the proposal. That’s not how it works."
"When we asked if you had ever inserted a furin cleavage site to a coronavirus, you responded with outrage. But that is what was described in the DARPA proposal."
"No. What you said is, did we insert a furin cleavage site? And what I said was, of course not! If we had done that work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, it would have been published by now. It would have been made public in our reports to the NIH. The DARPA proposal was not funded. Therefore, the work was not done. Simple."
"But you acknowledge that you proposed to DARPA to insert a furin cleavage site?"
"I refute that that was the goal of the DARPA proposal. The idea was not to insert a furin cleavage site in a virus to see what happens. That’s not what was proposed. The proposal was to look for those polybasic cleavage sites in nature because we knew that that was the potential to make a virus more able to infect people and move from person to person. If we found mutations around that polybasic cleavage site that looked like it could be evolvable, the idea was then that Ralph Baric’s lab at UNC would do some work to see how evolvable that site was. So that work never happened. The proposal was not funded."
"Did you find any of these cleavage sites in naturally occurring viruses that you collected?"
"The proposal was not funded so we didn’t do that work. We’ve not found polybasic cleavage sites. However, they are in many coronaviruses from bats. Papers from Europe show mutations around that cleavage site that suggest strongly that that furin cleavage site could evolve very easily in nature. I’m sure there are viruses out there with it. I’m convinced that it could have easily evolved during the first stages of the pandemic, as the virus got from bats, perhaps into an intermediate host in a wildlife farm, or into people."
"Did you resubmit the proposal?"
"We had conversations with them over many months about bits they would like to fund or they wanted to fund. We did not get funded. We did not do the work."
"So you didn’t think the DARPA proposal was relevant to the investigation into the origin of the pandemic?"
"A proposal that was not funded and work that was never done is not relevant to the origins of Covid. Of course not!"
"When asked if you had done this work with the furin cleavage site, you said no."
"For the furin cleavage site, you should really ask Ralph Baric. He wrote that section of the DARPA grant."
"So you’re saying that that would be a good question for Ralph Baric, whether he has done any of these insertions?"
"I don’t know what Ralph Baric has done. But I doubt that he would go ahead and do that work without the funding."
How dare you accuse us inserting a furin cleavage site! This is totally not relevant to Covid which is almost certainly not due to a lab leak Ok, yes we did propose it, maybe you should ask Ralph Baric about it..
I'm so convinced...https://theintercept.com/2022/03/11/cov ... interview/