The Facebook fact-checker for COVID-19 continues to insist that the disease had its origins at the Huanan Seafood Market, despite the emergence of evidence pointing to the pathogen's laboratory origins. As a result number of outlets have now called out Daszak.
"After everything that's been published over the last month …, Daszak still unequivocally believes that the virus originated naturally and that the pandemic stated at the … wet market," wrote RedState Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar, noting that Daszak was still "bitterly clinging" to that narrative.
Back in March of this year, Daszak served as a member of the World Health Organization's fact-finding mission in Wuhan. According to Daszak, he and his colleagues in the fact-finding mission discovered a so-called "1,000-mile pathway" that the virus took from southern China to the Wuhan wet market.
"What we found … is that there is a pathway. [Somehow, the COVID-19] virus got from a bat into one of those wildlife farms. And then the animals were shipped into the [Huanan] market," he said. The fact-checker added that the infected animals subsequently passed on the pathogen to humans when the latter prepared the animals for food.
Van Laar questioned why the existence of this pathway was not revealed sooner, asking: "If that [was] true, why haven't we heard about it before now?"
Fox News also pointed out Daszak's stubbornness on the matter. The conservative outlet cited a February 2020 article by Facebook's fact-checking partner Science Feedback where Daszak warned of serious repercussions that would come if people insisted on the lab leak theory.
"These rumors and conspiracy theories have real consequences, including threats of violence that have occurred to our colleagues in China," he said that time. (Related: In 2016, Peter Daszak admitted "colleagues in China" were developing "killer" coronaviruses.)
It appeared that Daszak expressed confidence in downplaying the laboratory origins of COVID-19 thanks to backing from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci. Emails from the latter, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Daszak thanked Fauci for lending his "trusted voice" in denouncing the lab leak theory.
"I just wanted to say a personal thank you … for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release," reads an April 18, 2020 email from the EHA president to Fauci.
Daszak added that Fauci's comments and "trusted voice" would contribute to debunking "myths being spun around the virus's origins." A day after Daszak sent the email, Fauci replied: "Many thanks for your kind note." (Related: Email: Researcher who funded Wuhan lab admitted to manipulating coronaviruses, thanked Fauci for dismissing lab leak theory.)
Van Laar's blog post also elaborated on Daszak's involvement in parties aside from Facebook and the WHO. She noted how he gave the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) $800,000 in funding from 2014 to 2019 through EHA. This amount was subsequently used for gain of function research on bat coronaviruses.
In addition, she also touched on Daszak's involvement with the WIV. The EHA president reportedly worked with WIV Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Shi Zhengli. Dubbed the "bat woman," Shi gained the moniker due to her work on bat coronaviruses.
Shi has likewise insisted that COVID-19 did not escape the WIV laboratory. According to a Hindustan Times report, Shi said "no evidence" existed for the lab leak theory. "How on earth can I offer up evidence for something when there is no evidence? I don't know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist," she said in a text message.
Visit Pandemic.news to read more stories about Peter Daszak and the debate on the origins of COVID-19.