A Telegraph investigation has found all but one scientist who penned a letter in The Lancet dismissing the possibility that coronavirus could have come from a lab in Wuhan, were linked to its Chinese researchers, their colleagues or funders.
Despite declaring no conflicts of interest at the time, it has emerged that the letter was orchestrated by British zoologist Peter Daszak, president of the US-based EcoHealth Alliance, which funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where the leak was suspected.
It has emerged EcoHealth Alliance part-funded controversial work by Wuhan researchers on bat coronaviruses which were altered to see if they could infect humans.
In an email on Feb 8, released under Freedom of Information requests, Mr Daszak revealed he had composed the letter after being asked by “our collaborators” in China for a “show of support”.
Angus Dalgleish, professor of oncology at St Georges, University of London, and Norwegian scientist Birger Sorensen, who struggled to have work published showing a link between the virus and Wuhan research, said there had been an “extreme cover-up”.
Commenting on the discovery that so many of the signatories were linked to China, they said, “This article is the first to show beyond reasonable doubt that our entire area of virus research has been contaminated politically. We bear the scars to show it.”
The Lancet published the letter on March 7 last year from 27 scientists in which they stated that they “strongly condemned conspiracy theories” surrounding Covid-19.
It effectively shut down scientific debate into whether coronavirus was manipulated or leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
The Telegraph says 26 of the 27 scientists listed in the letter had connections to the Chinese lab, through researchers and funders closely linked to Wuhan.
While Mr Daszak eventually declared his involvement in the EcoHealth Alliance, he failed to mention that five other signatories also worked for the organisation.
A further three of the signatories were from Britain’s Wellcome Trust, which has funded work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the past.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of Sage and the director of the Trust, who signed the letter, has also published work with George Gao, the head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, whom he describes as an “old friend”.