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lab theory Wuhan scientists planned to release coronaviruses into bat populations, leaked documents claim

The documents were released by Drastic, an investigations team set up by scientists to look into the origins of Covid.

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Scientists were planning to release enhanced airborne coronaviruses into Chinese bat populations to inoculate them against diseases that could jump to humans

Scientists were planning to release enhanced airborne coronaviruses into Chinese bat populations to inoculate them against diseases that could jump to humans

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Scientists in Wuhan were planning to release enhanced airborne coronaviruses into Chinese bat populations to inoculate them against diseases that could jump to humans, leaked grant proposals dating from 2018 show.

Documents show that just 18 months before the first Covid cases appeared, researchers submitted plans to release skin-penetrating nanoparticles containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” of bat coronaviruses into cave bats in Yunnan.

They also planned to create chimeric viruses genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily and requested $14m (12m) from the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

They hoped to introduce “human-specific cleavage sites” to bat coronaviruses which would make it easier for the virus to enter humans.

When Covid was genetically sequenced, scientists were puzzled about how the virus had evolved such a human-specific adaptation at the cleavage site on the spike protein, which is why it is so infectious.

The documents were released by Drastic, an investigations team set up by scientists to look into the origins of Covid.

Drastic said: “Given that we find in this proposal, a discussion of the planned introduction of human-specific cleavage sites, review by the wider scientific community of the plausibility of artificial insertion is warranted.”

It included plans to mix high-risk natural coronaviruses with more infectious but less dangerous varieties.

The bid was submitted by British zoologist Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance (EHA), the US organisation which has worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) on bat viruses.

Darpa refused to fund it, saying: “The project could have put local communities at risk,” and warned that the team had not considered the dangers of enhancing the virus (gain of function research) or releasing a vaccine by air.

The team also had concerns about the vaccine programme and said they would “conduct educational outreach so that there is a public understanding of what we are doing and why we are doing it, particularly because of bat-consumption in the region”.

Prof Angus Dalgleish, at St George’s University of London, who struggled to get work published showing that WIV had been doing “gain of function” work before the pandemic, said the research may have gone ahead without the funding.

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“This is clearly a gain of function, engineering the cleavage site and polishing the new viruses to enhance human cell infectability in more than one cell line,” he said.

Matt Ridley, who co-authored a book on the origin of Covid, and has frequently called for investigation into what caused the pandemic, said: “For more than a year I tried repeatedly to ask questions of Peter Daszak with no response.

"Now it turns out he had authored this vital piece of information about virus work in Wuhan but refused to share it with the world.

"Peter Daszak and EHA proposed injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses collected by WIV into humanised and ‘batified’ mice, and much more.”

The papers have been confirmed as genuine by a former member of the Trump administration. EHA and WIV have been approached for comment. (©Telegraph Media Group 2021)

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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