The US task force of scientists who was studying the possible origins of Sars-CoV-2 was suddenly dismissed. A question of expediency would have prompted Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs to dismiss the commission in favor of broader biosecurity research. The reason? According to Sachs, the task force’s ties to the American non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, which also worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, threatened to make the team’s work perceived as biased. It was reported on Wall Street Journal. EcoHealth Alliance, a New York non-profit organization, has been accused by some scientists and members of the American congress for using US economic resources in a program of studies on bat Coronaviruses. Program carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Virology in Wuhan, a Chinese city that is the epicenter of the pandemic in its first phase.
EcoHealth Alliance e Wuhan
Sachs, who chaired the committee affiliated with the scientific journal Lancet, said he was concerned about the public perception of his work since – until June 2021 – Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, was directly leading the task force. Other team members had also worked directly with the non-profit organization and its president. “I just didn’t want to have a task force so explicitly involved with one of the major research problems on the origins of the virus, which is the role of the EcoHealth Alliance,” said Sachs. However, the expert added that the commission will continue to study the origins of Covid for a report to be released in mid-2022, but will broaden its research field by including other scholars in the field of biosecurity in the team. Daszak, an expert on emerging viruses in animal species, was a strong opponent of the theory of SARS-CoV-2 escape from the laboratory. With him, five other members of the task force have signed up Lancet a letter in which they denounced what they called “conspiracy theories” on the bioengineered origin of Sars-CoV-2.
At the time of the dismissal of the team’s work, the task force disbanded by Sachs was following both the tracks of the origins of Sars-CoV-2, both that of the natural passage of species and that of the escape from the Wuhan laboratory. The commission chaired by Sachs and led, until a few months ago, by Daszak had among its 12 members Malik Peiris, a virologist based in Hong Kong who played a fundamental role in identifying the coronavirus that caused the Sars epidemic in 2003, Carlos das Neves, research director of the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, and Danielle Anderson, an Australian virologist at the University of Melbourne who conducted research at the Wuhan institute in late 2019.