The COVID-19 testing czar for former President Donald Trump said the World Health Organization rejected three qualified U.S scientists for the WHO-China joint COVID-19 origins study conducted in early 2021, with the only American picked for the team being longtime Wuhan lab collaborator Peter Daszak.
Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary of health and a member of Trump’s White House coronavirus task force, said Tuesday that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Health Emergencies Programme Director Michael Ryan had asked the U.S. to provide names last year for the then-upcoming WHO origins investigation in China and that Giroir had submitted a U.S. scientist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration, only for the trio to be rejected and Daszak to be picked instead.
Giroir, a former four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, spoke as part of a panel organized by House Republicans and made the revelation during questioning by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a New York Republican, who contended that “the CCP was given full veto power over inclusion of American scientists, the CCP vetoed the three Americans put forward by HHS, the only American accepted was the CEO of EcoHealth Alliance … the CCP designed the mission’s itinerary and refused access to Chinese scientists and raw data, and … the CCP was given full power to edit and alter the final report.”
Malliotakis asked about accountability for the WHO.
“Our Ambassador [Andrew] Bremberg had a personal conversation and meeting with Director-General Tedros, as well as Mike Ryan, and they suggested — they didn’t suggest. They told Ambassador Bremberg that we should submit names for the WHO Investigation Committee. That got relayed back to me through our office of global affairs,” Giroir said. “We picked three scientists. They were not political. They were career. One from the FDA. One from the CDC. One from the NIH. Impeccable credentials. We didn’t do a political biopsy on them. We had no ideas where they were from. Recommended them to the WHO through all the official channels, and crickets. Not one word back about the recommendations, and they picked Dr. Daszak.”
Giroir added later that it was “pretty unprecedented” for the names to be summarily rejected, adding he did not know if China had vetoed the names.
NIH’s Reporter website said the agency provided $15.2 million to Daszak’s New York-based EcoHealth over the years, with $3.74 million toward understanding bat coronavirus emergence. Daszak maintained a long working relationship with Wuhan lab “bat lady” Shi Zhengli, sending her lab at least $600,000 in NIH funding for bat coronavirus research.
Daszak has criticized the Biden administration for skepticism of the WHO’s findings, defended China on Communist Party-linked outlets, and dismissed the lab leak hypothesis, admitting he took Wuhan lab workers at their word and claimed their answers seemed convincing.
On Daszak's relationship with the lab, Giroir said: “It’s an extreme conflict of interest. Again. I don’t know him personally. I don’t want to imply, but a priori, there’s a conflict of interest there since his organization was the vehicle to provide much funding to the Wuhan lab and, of course, would have every reason in the world to make it not so that work that he funded caused a worldwide pandemic.”
A State Department fact sheet released in January contended Wuhan lab researchers “conducted experiments involving RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar)” and that the lab “has a published record of conducting ‘gain-of-function’ research to engineer chimeric viruses.” The fact sheet also asserted the lab “engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military” and that lab workers became sick with coronaviruslike symptoms in autumn 2019.
A letter signed by 27 scientists, including Daszak, and published in the Lancet in February 2020 dismissed the lab leak hypothesis as a conspiracy theory. Numerous outlets pointed to Daszak to shut down the debate over COVID-19’s origins. Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit group, show Daszak organized the Lancet statement and recruited prominent scientists to sign on to it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci announced in August the awarding of $17 million in grants for a “global network” to investigate “how and where viruses and other pathogens emerge from wildlife and spillover to cause disease in people.” One out of the 11 “principal investigator” grantees was Daszak. EcoHealth said in August it had received $7.5 million over five years from Fauci's agency.
The U.S. intelligence community said at least one of its 18 agencies is leaning toward the lab leak hypothesis, and Biden ordered all of the spy agencies to “redouble” their investigative efforts last month.
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