Ask Marion (3): (English translation)

The Lab-Leak Hypothesis.

 

I want to raise every voice, at least I’ve got to try

Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes

Situation desperate, echoes of the victim’s cry

If I had a rocket launcher, if I had a rocket launcher

If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die

Bruce Cockburn

 

This is part 3 of the triptych “Ask Marion”. In this section, I will explain and reveal how the protagonists in this drama tried to defuse the hypothesis that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Perhaps ‘defuse’ is not the right word: They have really tried everything to discredit this hypothesis and declare it a conspiracy theory.

In part 2 of “Ask Marion”, I already described how Alina Chan replied to Peter Daszak in such a way that Daszak rested his case, as he ran out of arguments. The discussion was all about Chan’s article, concluding that right at the beginning of the pandemic, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was remarkably well adapted to its new host, humans. It was the first crack in the zoonosis theory as a hypothesis for the emergence of the pandemic. In part 2 I also discussed that Daszak lost funding of his research, performed in cooperation with researchers from the WIV. All this, after it became apparent that he had channeled money from the National Health Institute (NIH), through Eco-Alliance, to the WIV.

In the complex political and scientific discussion about the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that followed, it’s always this Peter Daszak who appears as the key figure in the attempts to refer the lab-leak theory to the realm of fables. Moreover, it would not be the first time that a SARS virus has escaped from a laboratory. After the SARS epidemic of 2002/2003, various escapes from SARS as well as other dangerous pathogens have occurred from laboratories with the highest level of safety, always caused by accidents and neglect.

In part three, I will start off showing a letter to the editor, submitted to and published in The Lancet on March 7, 2020, among others signed by this same Mr. Daszak. The significant title of this letter reads: “Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of China combatting COVID-19”.

In this letter, the various authors express their sympathy and support for their Chinese colleagues (1). As an example, the letter states the following passage: “We have watched as the scientists, public health professionals and medical professionals of China in particular, have worked diligently and effectively to rapidly identify the pathogen behind this outbreak, put in place significant measures to reduce its impact, and share their results transparently with the global health community. This effort has been remarkable.”

This eulogy however, seems not enough: Apart from expressing support for their Chinese colleagues and the exuberant praise of China for its rapid and effective approach to the outbreak of the corona pandemic, there was a second objective: Once and for all making clear to anyone – regardless of position, scientific standing or merit for science – who would even consider the possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could have escaped from the Wuhan laboratory, that this was an absurd conspiracy theory, and that they should shut their mouth: “The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumors 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 analyzed 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…”

“…Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors, and prejudice that jeopardies our global collaboration in the fight against this virus. We support the call from the Director-General of WHO to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture. We want you, the science and health professionals of China, to know that we stand with you in your fight against this virus. We invite others to join us in supporting the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of Wuhan and across China. Stand with our colleagues on the frontline.”

As it turned out, this letter in The Lancet was the initiative of Peter Daszak, who had been able to mobilize some of his fellow-scientists from Eco-Alliance and other stakeholders, to co-sign this letter. The authors of this letter to the editor also stated no ‘conflicts of interest’. That statement turned out to be an obvious lie: Rita Colwell, who will be subject of interest later, and James Hughes are both members of the Board of Directors of EcoHealth Alliance (11.12). William Kress is Executive Vice President for Health and Policy of the EcoHealth Alliance, and Hume Field is Science and Policy Advisor of this same foundation. (10,13,14). And that is not all: On June 22, 2020, The Lancet instated a special COVID-19 committee, divided into several Taskforces, including one named Origins, Early Spread of the Pandemic, and one Health Solutions to Future Pandemic threats (43). Not only Peter Daszak was part of this Taskforce, also five others who signed the letter in The Lancet. To be specific: Hume Field, Gerald T. Keutsch, Sait Ki Lam, Stanly Perlman and Linda Saif. One may assume that the publication in The Lancet a few months before has not been impeded by this group, and that the objectivity of this task force, regarding the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, can be put into a questionable perspective.

The above situation resulted in an addendum to the letter submitted, in which only Daszak lists his conflicting interests, but not those of the other authors that signed the letter (2). Moreover, following the commotion that arose around his person after becoming aware of his initiating role in the letter, he withdrew from the COVID-19 committee of The Lancet (16). The fact that China has been anything but cooperative, open and transparent, although emphasized in their statement, does not need further explanation (41.42)

Peter Daszak

By means of an appeal to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), similar to an appeal to the ‘Wet Openbaar Bestuur’ in the Netherlands, Peter Daszak’s e-mail correspondence was formally requested, and made public. This correspondence shows Daszak’s intention to edit the statement, which was finally published as Letter to the Editor in The Lancet, in such a way, that it would look like a statement by the world’s leading scientists in their specialty. This, to support other (Chinese) scientists working in the same discipline, as they would be under severe pressure. In addition, Daszak writes that the impression of it being a political statement should be avoided.

In an e-mail, dated February 8, 2020, to Rita Colwell, microbiologist and professor at the University of Maryland (3), he writes that her input will have a major influence in keeping the ‘essential emergency bridges between the United States and China (3)’ open. The same email also strongly suggests that Chinese scientists themselves asked for this support, among other things based on ‘particularly annoying Chinese websites’ and death threats sent to these scientists. Details about these people are not specifically mentioned, although it is obvious that one of them is Shi Zhengli – named in the previous blog – nicknamed ‘the Batwoman’ and director of the WIV – with whom Daszak maintains warm relations and together with whom he published several scientific articles.

Two days earlier, on February 6, 2020, he wrote an e-mail to Ralph Baric, stating that it would be wise if this Baric, a certain ‘Linfa’, and himself would not sign the statement, to create ‘some distance’ between them and the statement. In the same e-mail he writes that he will send the letter to some ‘key figures’, and subsequently publish the statement in such a way, that it could not be traced back to them. All with the intention to insinuate the statement to be a fully independent opinion (of the 27 scientists who signed the letter).

The question rises, why Daszak so greatly stored by keeping distance from this statement. There are several reasons for this: For example, as President of EcoHealth Alliance, through this foundation he had channeled funds from the National Health Institute (NIH) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Wuhan Institute of virology (WIV), al long last mentioned by him in the Addendum to the letter of 21 June. In this addendum, he casually mentions that the activities of Eco-Health Alliance in China are not funded anymore, without mentioning the actual reason for that. Funding was discontinued by a direct order from the White House, upon President Trump getting questions about it at a press conference.

Furthermore, he states that the EcoHealth Alliance and himself were never financed by the Republic of China, but he forgets to mention that the research at the WIV, in which he was directly involved, was financed by both the EcoHealth Alliance and the Chinese government. In a 2018 broadcast on CGTN, the official website of China Global Television Network he literally states the same (7.8). Additionally, in the addendum he writes he had been a member of the expert mission, sent by the WHO to Wuhan to investigate the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is the same team in which Marion Koopmans participated. In contrast, the addendum states that he did so in a personal capacity, as a competent expert, so, not as a staff member of the EcoHealth Alliance. With that he suggests that he was able to completely separate his business interests from his scientific interests and expertise, apparently fully neutral towards the hypothesis that the virus had actually passed on to man on the Wuhan market. This also was the implicit message in the letter sent to The Lancet, in which all authors, including Daszak, declared having had no conflicting interests. Summarizing, Daszak must have realized that the above facts could seriously damage the credibility of the letter submitted. Why he signed the letter after all, is therefore unclear.

Linfa Wang

Daszak mentions a certain ‘Linfa’ in his email. This is Linfa Wang (4): Not only is he a professor by special appointment at the Chinese Academy of Science, an exploratory search at PubMed also shows us that, as an author, he is involved in fifty scientific publications, also mentioning Shi Zhengli as co-author (5). The first being published in 2005, and in the last five years already about twenty studies in which both are mentioned as authors. It’s certainly not unusual to see the same names mentioned in different studies with the same subject time and again, because scientists often work together, especially in view of the specialized nature of their research. But having both Daszak and Linfa Wang thinking it wise not to let Wang sign the Letter to the Editor, must certainly result from Wang’s conflict of interest. That would most possibly give the impression that a political objective was pursued, and it was not a scientifically based position of many leading scientists from many different institutes, which unanimously believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a zoonosis and cannot have escaped from a laboratory.

Ralph Baric

About Ralph Baric: A search with the combination of his name and that of Shi Zhengli results in five hits, mentioning both as authors. Once again, this doesn’t have to immediately cause suspicion. What could then be the reason for Daszak and his companions to think it wise not to sign the statement?

Here, the Gain-of-function studies of (viral) pathogens become apparent, as also performed by Ron Fouchier of Erasmus University Rotterdam. This special research is described on the US Department of Health and Human Services’ website as follows: Gain-of-function (GOF) studies, or research that improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease, help define the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, thereby enabling assessment of the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents, informing public health and preparedness efforts, and furthering medical countermeasure development. (9).

Ralph Baric was, as senior author, involved in a major Gain-of-function study in 2015, developing a fully synthetic recombinant virus, against which monoclonal antibodies and vaccines appeared to be non-effective (17). The penultimate author of this article was Shi-Zhengli. Specifically, this article exposes the direct link between Baric, Shi-Zhengli and her WIV. This investigation also prompted Anthony Fauci to send an e-mail to Hugh Auchincloss stating that there were ‘Tasks still to be carried out today’ (21). Hugh Auchincloss is Principal Deputy Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), of which Anthony Fauci is the Director General (22) It is not known exactly what those tasks entailed.

Moreover, as a result of the 2015 article by Baric and Zhengli, there was already a warning given about the dangers that such research entailed. Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute of Paris, concretized that the researchers had created a new virus that significantly propagated itself in human cells. Additionally, he mentioned that if such a virus were to escape from a laboratory, no one could predict the consequences (18). It may have been foresight…

Richard Ebright, molecular biologist and expert in protection against biological warfare – from Rutgers University of Piscataway, New Jersey – stated, that the only impact this research had, was the creation of a new virus in the laboratory, and in his opinion a new non-natural risk. Baric didn’t agree and felt that such research was useful. Both Ebright and Wain-Hobson have been critical about the Gain-of-function research for a long time.

Eventually, even the authors of the study had to admit that in the future, financial supporters would think twice to refinance such experiments. According to them, it would be possible for future scientific review committees to rule that performing such research is too risky. The authors argued that further discussion is necessary to determine whether synthetic synthesized chimeric viruses should be investigated further, with implicit high risks entailed.

And finally, a direct link between Baric and EcoHealth Alliance is manifest: Ralph Baric received a honorarium from the foundation, of which it is unknown how high it was, and for what activities he received it.

Very likely, Peter Daszak thought it to be wise for Baric not to sign the Letter to the Editor, as the publication would link him directly to Zhengli and the WIV, as well as to the EcoHealth Alliance. It could give the impression that Baric would sign the letter about the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in order not to jeopardize his own research of Gain-of-function of viruses. For as Jamie Metzl, an expert in geopolitics among others, put it: “If the pandemic had started as a result of an escape of a virus (genetically engineered) from the laboratory, the potential for virology as a field could mean what the nuclear disasters in Harrisburg and Chernobyl meant for nuclear energy” (20). It would most likely lead to the cessation of funding, and imposition of moratoriums on doing this category of scientific research, as had already happened in 2014. It would mark the end for all lines of research with the subject ‘Gain-of-function’.

Marion Koopmans en Ron Fouchier

However, not the authors who signed the letter in The Lancet stand out most, but precisely the names that are missing under this letter, while one would expect them. They are the names of Marion Koopmans and Ron Fouchier, especially if one considers that for example Christian Drosten did sign the letter. Both Koopmans and Fouchier are big names in this branch of science, as is well known. The Letter to the Editor would become much more expressive if these two top virologists would also sign it. And yet their names are missing. The fact that Peter Daszak simply did not consider asking them does not seem credible in advance. For example, he wrote in his e-mail to Baric that he would forward the statement to ‘a few key figures’ and it is likely that Fouchier and Koopmans also belong to that select group.

For example, a teleconference was convened on February 1, 2020, invited by Jeremy Farrar, a phone conference also including Koopmans and Fouchier (24). Farrar is the CEO of the Wellcome Trust, the richest and most powerful charity in the world. He also signed the letter in The Lancet. But that’s not all: the Chief Operating Officer of the Welcome Trust, Paul Schreier, was present at the teleconference as well. And finally, a third person from the Wellcome Trust participated in the telephone conference: Mike Ferguson, member of the Board of Directors of the Trust. One might wonder why the highest executive, the second-highest executive and a member of the Board of Directors of the world’s largest charity are present at a conference of top virologists including the highest executive of the NIH, Anthony Fauci. A conference on COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The meeting was, mind you, initiated by the CEO of this charity.

After the conference call, a stream of emails follows with Farrar as sender, several of them directed to Fauci. In addition, there is one e-mail from Ron Fouchier, containing the minutes of the conference call. The contents of the minutes have been blacked out (FOIA) (26). Marion Koopmans also sent an e-mail following the teleconference, but what she wrote was removed as well (40).

Therefore, with a high degree of certainty, we can assume that Ron Fouchier and Marion Koopmans belong to the ‘key figures’ mentioned by Daszak. It might however still be possible that Daszak simply did not ask them to sign the Letter to the Editor. This is highly unlikely, because, although Koopmans and Fouchier are not on the list of signatories, there is another virologist from the Erasmus Viroscience department who did sign the letter. That person is Bart Haagmans, a relatively unknown virologist specializing in coronaviruses. It is inconceivable that Koopmans and Fouchier, respectively Head and Deputy Head of the department, would not have been aware of the letter, where one of their own virologists did sign it. Moreover, this Haagmans is most likely not the scientific heavyweight that Daszak had in mind when he wrote in his e-mail to Baric, trying to give the letter the appearance of a general opinion of the world’s leading scientists in the field. Koopmans and Fouchier, unlike Haagmans, do enjoy international prestige, which would certainly have given the letter more prestige.

The fact that Haagmans signed the letter and Foucher and Koopmans did not, is all the more striking when one realizes that Haagmans never took the honors of Fouchier or Koopmans in one or more of the unnumerable media appearances. Although Koopmans must have been very busy being a highly sought-after top virologist, together with her many additional positions, including being an advisor to the World Health Organization, this appeared neither a limitation for her to make countless appearances for TV-channels like ‘Op1’, ‘Jinek’ or ‘Nieuwsuur’. Nor did it stop her from giving a multitude of interviews, including several by her great admirer Maarten Keulemans of de Volkskrant newspaper. She also regularly commented and advised on the entire corona situation in various radio programs. No effort was too much for Marion Koopmans to highlight her views and expertise. She never declined a request and never found a need to be represented by Bart Haagmans. But this unknown virologist did sign an extremely important letter in The Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals available, a letter that was intended to discredit the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 virus could have escaped from the WIV. This is difficult to believe.

I personally think that the explanation for this must again be sought in the Gain-of-function research. This kind of research first made headlines in 2011, when Ron Fouchier, according to Science Magazine, reported he had probably created the most dangerous virus ever (27). He had caused five mutations through genetic engineering of the H5N1 influenza virus which made the virus transmissible through air. These five mutations were well known, but never had been found together in one influenza virus. The research was carried out on ferrets, reasoning that if an influenza virus could be transmitted from one ferret to another, this would always, without exception, also be possible in humans. For the record, at that time Ab Osterhaus was Head of the Virology department at Erasmus University.

And in 2011 too, following this Fouchier study, a roaring debate resulted, discussing whether this research should have been carried out at all, and whether this type of science should or should not be drastically limited (27). Even then, Richard Elbright, who has already been mentioned, warned that such research should never have been done, and that if such a virus had escaped from the laboratory, the consequences would be unimaginable. He also stressed the possibility that this form of research could be used to develop a powerful biological weapon. A weapon that could then be used by rogue states or terrorists, possibly resulting in mass death among the population. Hence the term ‘dual-use research’ was born: Research offering potentially useful knowledge, but on the other hand possibly being used for bioterrorism or biological warfare.

In the years that followed, Ron Fouchier remained a strong advocate for Gain-of-function research. For example, as lead author, he wrote letters to both Science (28) and Nature (29) in which he argued that such research was essential to understand the transmission of influenza and that similar studies contributed to increase this knowledge. He also argued that more of this Gain-of-function research should be performed to examine how some influenza viruses could cause a pandemic. He also guaranteed that these experiments were conducted under strict supervision and according to strict regulations. Moreover, according to Fouchier, this form of research was only carried out in special laboratories with very strict safety regulations. According to him, only well-trained employees with a strong sense of responsibility worked in those laboratories, in order to minimize the chance of a potentially dangerous virus escaping from it.

However, after the SARS epidemic in 2002/2003, there have been several accidental and careless escapes of SARS, as well as other dangerous pathogens, including from laboratories with the highest security level. It was these accidents that led to the 2014 moratorium on Gain-of-function research in the United States (38, 39). It is undeniable that Ron Fouchier was aware of this, and so he knew very well that reality was different from the reality he pictured.

In 2015, Ron Fouchier again argued for Gain-of-function research, which he believed was absolutely essentialto demonstrate causal relationships between genes and mutations on one hand, and specific biological properties of viruses on the other (30). Some of Fouchier’s statements in that article include the following: “We need GOF experiments to demonstrate causal relationships between genes or mutations and particular biological traits of pathogens. In most cases, there are no alternative approaches that would provide similarly strong evidence as GOF experiments. ” And this statement by Fouchier now appears somewhat in an alltogether different light: “Invoking the apocalypse should not be used to drive debate, set agendas, decide policy or regulate experiments with dangerous pathogens out of existence.”

I strongly suspect that this successful Gain-of-function investigation by Ron Fouchier is the reason why Marion Koopmans and he did not sign the letter to The Lancet. Signing would have given the letter the appearance of political interests, rather than the general opinion of leading scientists such as Daszak. For Koopmans and Fouchier too, if it were proven that the SARS-CoV-2 virus had escaped from the WIV, it would have disastrous consequences getting funds for Gain-of-function experiments with influenza viruses, just as it would have for Ralph Baric.

However, the letter submitted to The Lancet was not the only attempt to defuse the lab-leak hypothesis. On March 17, 2020, a letter was published in Nature Medicine with Kristian G. Andersen, Professor of the Scripps Research Institute (31) and Director of the Andersen Laboratory as first author (32). In this letter he argued why it was very unlikely that the SARS-CoV-20 virus would have escaped from the laboratory (33). His argumentation was essentially based on two statements, which could easily be refuted (34.35).

This Kristian Andersen was also present at the teleconference on February 1, but it is remarkable that the morning before the conference he sent an email to Anthony Fauci, stating that although only 0.1% of the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was ‘unusual’, one would have to look really closely at these aberrant genetic sequences to see if they might have been genetically manipulated. He also writes that, after consultation with some colleagues, they jointly concluded that the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus does not correspond to a natural evolution. Fauci replied with a short “Ok Kristian, thank you”.

The above is not the only thing that’s special about Kristian Andersen’s article: the conference call was on February 1, 2020. The article itself had already been posted on a preprint server on February 9, 2020. On February 18, 2020, in a tweet, Jeremy Farrar is asking attention for the article, referring to it as a “critical thread, please read pre-print prior to publication”. But not only that, as in the same tweet he writes: ”…clear evidence of natural evolution of this virus prior to human-2-human transmission – clearly refuting other theories”. The article in which he had contributed as an editor, proven by Andersen’s e-mail, thanking Farrar, besides other things, for his help. And that’s still not all that’s remarkable about this article: When comparing the authors of the paper with the participants in the conference, it appears that four out of five authors participated in the conference call, being Andersen himself, Andrew Rambaut, Edward C. Holmes and Robert F. Garry. It is striking that Andersen can write and publish such an article within nine days, and then, within that period, comes to a diametrically different conclusion, in comparison with his e-mail of the night before the conference call.

The fact that Fauci and Farrar were also directly involved in Andersen’s publication is even more evident in an email from Andersen to Fauci and Farrar of March 6, 2020, in which he thanked them for their advice and leadership in working on the “SARS-CoV-2-virus origins” To both he sends a preliminary version of the article that has since been accepted for publication in Nature Medicine, writing that he welcomes comments, suggestions and questions about the publication. This e-mail shows that both Fauci and Farrar were directly involved in an article that attempted to transfer the lab-leak theory to the realm of fables, and the zoonosis theory was professed to be the only correct one. Andersen has since deleted his, previously intensively used, Twitter account, on which he vigorously defended the zoonosis theory many times. One of his co-authors, Ian Lipkin, has since changed his mind and is now taking the lab-leak theory seriously (44). He is the only author who was not present during the conference call.

Even if Andersen’s statement is correct, with a virus like SARS-Cov-2, consisting of about 30,000 base pairs, it would still handle about 30 base pairs, more than enough to, for instance, build a furin-cleavage site into the virus, a trait not found in any other beta-coronavirus, greatly increasing the virulence of the virus. Among others, it is this furin-cleavage site that has sparked a heated debate as to whether this is strongly suggestive or real evidence of genetic manipulation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (37).

The two Letters to the Editor, sent in by Peter Daszak in The Lancet of February 19, 2020, and the one from Kristian G. Andersen in Nature Medicine of March 17, 2020, cannot be interpreted in any other way than strongly politically motivated statements, where Andersen’s letter is disguised as a scientific paper. Nevertheless, these two letters proved extremely effective in completely suppressing any suggestion of a possible escape of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the WIV. The theory that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was a zoonosis remained the only dominant theory. In the scientific world this theory has been accepted as the only correct one, and apparently many other scientists could not or did not dare to express their doubts.

Mainstream media, and together with them many ‘science journalists’, proved unable to critically rate these two Letters to the Editor and assess their scientific value. They blindly adopted the content of both statements, as being the scientific consensus that escape of the SARS-CoV-2 from the WIV was highly unlikely, if not impossible. The hypothesis was considered nothing more than a conspiracy theory, devised by people who wanted to incriminate virological science. Only after someone like Alina Chan took that risk and the whole scientific world roared over her, the first cracks appeared in the zoonosis theory. These cracks have since grown into deep and wide fissures. A number of people who initially signed the letter to The Lancet have since distanced themselves from the statements in this letter and its claim that the hypothesis of a lab-leak would be nothing more than a conspiracy theory (44). One might wonder whether this was the ‘desired outcome’, as can be read in the preliminary email from Farrar at the conference call of February 1, 2020, and whether the letter in The Lancet and the letter in Nature Medicine were the ‘further steps’ towards this goal. Both publications raise this suggestion, given the various links between these two articles and the participants in the conference call.

What followed, was a fact-finding mission to Wuhan, with participants including Peter Daszak, Marion Koopmans, Ralph Baric and Linda Saif. The latter also signed the letter to The Lancet. Participants in this mission had to be pre-assessed and approved by the Chinese government. It is obvious that they had no objection to people like Daszak, Koopmans and Baric.

The team that ultimately arrived in Wuhan consisted of thirteen people. Three of them had no interest whatsoever in concluding that the SARS-CoV-2 virus had escaped from the WIV, and two of them had already expressed their very strong opinions about this in the letter to The Lancet. Of the third person, Ralph Baric, it was considered unwise by Daszak, Linfang and Baric, to sign this letter. The fourth person, Marion Koopmans, did not sign the letter, but passed it on to one of her relatively unknown employees.

Marion Koopmans (and also Ron Foucher) must have known about Peter Daszak’s setup in The Lancet, probably initiated by Jeremy Farrar. She must have known as well about the design of Andersen’s article, collaborating on both Farrar’s and Fauci’s own article. As she also must have known about the conflicting interests of Daszak and Baric, not to mention her own conflicting interests.

She also knew in advance of the extremely dubious conditions imposed by China on the WHO-assembled team of experts to conduct research in Wuhan. Nevertheless, she decided to participate anyway, instead of keeping the credit to herself. She maintained a wall of silence about this, despite the many media appearances she had and the many interviews she gave. Not even once she has been seriously questioned about these facts by journalists in the mainstream media On the contrary, she was approached as if she had a monopoly on wisdom being a virologist. And not only pertaining to the virological aspects of the corona pandemic, but also about many other COVID-19-related topics, about which she appeared to know no more than any average interested lay person.

All this happened before the first infection in the Netherlands (February 17, 2020). The pandemic and its enormous future impact on social, economic, medical and societal aspects of society was not visible yet. It therefore seems that all key figures, including Marion Koopmans and Ron Fouchier, considered securing their own lines of research and funding them, way more important than tracing the real origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Not realizing themselves, that afterwards everything would be examined under a strong magnifying glass.

Developments in the last few weeks have been rapid, and new details are published almost every day, causing an escape of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the WIV to be increasingly plausible. This includes the removal of genetic sequences closely related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the NIH database by Chinese scientists in October 2020. This pertains to sequences that could lead to a definitive answer to the question of the real origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (15). Therefore, in any way, I cannot possibly rule out that parts two and three of this series will be supplemented with new information in the near future.

Although these developments are widely reported, in various highly regarded and widely read American newspapers and magazines – including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times – Dutch mainstream media remain eerily quiet. The fact that nothing of the above appeared in our Dutch media reveals the bankruptcy of Dutch investigative and science journalism.

In my next blog, hopefully the last, I will explain how the mission in Wuhan was executed, which scientists were involved, and how they came to the conclusion that an escape from the WIV lab is extremely unlikely.

Here ends part three of this series.

Supplement July 4, 2021:

The internal communication of EcoHealth Alliance reveals that, at an early stage, Marion Koopmans was indeed aware of Peter Daszak’s intent (45). On February 6, 2020, Daszak sends an e-mail to Ralph Baric, Linda Saif, Rita Colwell, James Hughe and Hume Field, with a word file ‘Statement of Support, nCoV China Final.docx’ attached. It is the statement that would be published later in The Lancet. He invites these five people to co-sign the statement. The text of this email speaks for itself:

A few more emails are sent back and forth, expressing support for this statement by some of the five people addressed, and suggesting some extra changes to the text. Then, the same day, Daszak sends an email to his companions, detailing what text to use to discredit the lab-leak-theory by referring it to the gloomy realm of conspiracy theorists.

More importantly, in this email he requests for names of others that may be willing to co-sign the statement. Both Hume Field and Linda Saif promise to come with suggestions. On February 7, 2020, Saif sends an email to Daszak in which she proposes both Marion Koopmans and Bart Haagmans as possible candidates. Ron Fouchier is not named as a potential candidate to sign the letter. Why did Daszak himself not suggest approaching Koopmans and Fouchier? This, while he had been speaking to them five days before under strict secrecy, during a conference call. Did Koopmans and Fouchier perhaps indicate at the conference call, that they would not be willing to participate in this plan by Daszak? These are questions that only Koopmans and Fouchier can answer, but they brazenly keep silent about this. And there is no one who is asking them about it…

That same day, February 7, 2020, Daszak sends an email to Colwell with the list of people they want to approach to sign the statement. That list includes the name of Ab Osterhaus, as well as Marion Koopmans and Bart Haagmans. Haagmans will sign the letter, Koopmans will not. The question remains; why not?

Is it possible that Haagmans signed in good faith because he did not know something that Koopmans and Fouchier did know, namely that the letter was Daszak’s design with a purely political purpose, as discussed in the telephone conference of February 1? It would explain why Haagmans, in his ignorance, did sign, where Koopmans and Fouchier did not. Anyway, Koopmans knew about this initiative from Daszak at an early stage, and before the publication date. But Koopmans also maintained a wall of silence around the inside information of this statement.

  1. Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals combatting COVID-19. The Lancet; February 19, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30418-9
  2. Addendum: competing interests and the origins of SARS-CoV-2. June 21. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01377-5
  3. https://www.umiacs.umd.edu/people/rita-colwell
  4. https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/editor-profile
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