U.S. nonprofit responds to claims it brought close relative of Covid-19 virus to Wuhan

“No work has ever been carried out in Laos as part of this collaborative research project” EcoHealth Alliance – a group that has conducted coronavirus experiments while receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – said in a series of tweets on Sunday, responding to media reports alleging the group may have transported a virus potentially dangerous from Laos to the Wuhan laboratory.

The group’s name surfaced in October when NIH Senior Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak revealed that the EcoHealth Alliance had been experimenting with viruses with the agency’s financial assistance. At that time, White House medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci said the viruses studied under the project “Were molecularly far enough away that no matter what you did to them, they could never, ever become SARS-CoV-2.” “

EcoHealth has come under further scrutiny after its emails, obtained through an Freedom of Information request, appeared to suggest the group was discussing the possibility of collecting bat viral samples in Laos and send them to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The emails were originally obtained by the White Coat Waste Project and sparked a flurry of reports over the weekend, most notably in British science writer Matt Ridley’s Spectator.

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Emails shared between EcoHealth Alliance and its US government funders reportedly revealed that scientists discussed collecting bat viral samples in eight countries, including Laos, between 2016 and 2019, and have fondled the idea of ​​transporting them to Wuhan, apparently, to avoid red ribbon. A 2016 email cited by The Spectator reads: “All samples collected would be tested at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “

Laos is the birthplace of at least one virus that appears to be very close to SARS-Cov-2. Bat viral strain called Banal-52 discovered in Laos in September shares 96.8% of its genome with the virus causing the Covid-19 pandemic

Dimanche, EcoHealth Alliance claims than the emails quoted by Ridley “Don’t show… that we sample bats in Laos and send the results to Wuhan. “

However, the group acknowledged that it had applied to the NIH for permission to work in Southeast Asian countries, including Laos, and that this authorization had been granted.

However, the association claimed it ended up focusing on China instead.

The response did not satisfy Ridley, who is also a co-author of a book on the origin of Covid, which demanded ” evidence “ prove that his report was not ” Totally correct. “

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