The families of four people who died from COVID-19 are taking EcoHealth Alliance to court. This organization, based in New York, was studying how bat coronaviruses change to become more dangerous in Wuhan, China, even before COVID-19 started there.
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In a lawsuit filed on August 2 in the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, the lawsuit says that EcoHealth and its leader, Peter Daszak, knew the virus could cause a worldwide pandemic.
The lawsuit also claims that EcoHealth not only made a ‘changed virus,’ but also tried to hide where the outbreak started.
“If we had known the source or origin of this virus and had not been misled that it was from a pangolin in a wet market, and rather we knew that it was a genetically manipulated virus, and that the scientists involved were concealing that from our clients, the outcome could have been very different,” victims’ attorney Patricia Finn told the New York Post.
Finn is also taking EcoHealth and Daszak to court in Nassau and Rockland Counties. Finn is representing families of other people who died from the virus and two who got better.
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“This particular case is highly offensive because it appears they knew and concealed the origin of the virus,” said Finn, adding, “The treatment or approach taken in dealing with the virus could have been radically different than it was.”
EcoHealth got a grant again in May from the NIH for over $576,000. They wanted to learn about how dangerous viruses like SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 start in animals and spread to people. They got this money even though they didn’t follow the rules set by the NIH.
The grant, named “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” was first given in 2014 by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The grant gave EcoHealth Alliance, a group supported by the government, $3.8 million for five years. They wanted to see how bat viruses could spread to people by changing their genetics in labs.
In May 2016, the grant was stopped because Erik Stemmy, who works at NIAID, thought the money might have been used for experiments that weren’t allowed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China. At that time, the Obama administration had stopped these kinds of experiments. But for unclear reasons, the stop was lifted in July 2016. At that time, Peter Daszak, the leader of EcoHealth, said thanks to NIAID for letting them continue.
As part of the grant’s rules, EcoHealth had to send reports about what they were doing. But since 2018, they haven’t sent these reports. They said technology problems stopped them. The missing reports were really important because they were from before COVID-19 started in Wuhan.
In 2014, the Obama administration stopped giving money for research that made bat COVID more likely to spread to humans. A few months before this decision, the NIH moved this research from EcoHealth to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), where Peter Daszak was in charge.
Under the direction of Dr. Shi ‘Batwoman’ Zhengli, it is noteworthy that the WIV “had openly participated in gain-of-function research in partnership with U.S. universities and institutions” for years.
But after Sars-CoV-2 started in the same place where Daszak was changing Bat COVID, The Lancet published an article by Daszak (signed by many scientists), saying the virus must have come from animals naturally, maybe from a wet market. They said they strongly disagree with the idea that COVID-19 came from something other than animals. The Lancet later mentioned that Daszak had interests that could affect his views.
Meanwhile, last year, a report from the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor, and Pensions on October 27, 2022, said that COVID-19 probably came from a lab as part of research, not from animals. This report was from a group of people from different political parties who looked into where COVID-19 started.
The report was the result of a “bipartisan Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee oversight effort into the origins of SARS-CoV-2”. It provides a lengthy analysis that reviews “publicly available, open-source information to examine the two prevailing theories of origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus”.
The EcoHealth Alliance’s grant has been reinstated, but the NIH’s conditions for reinstatement have not been met.