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The World Health Organization is defending its appointment of a U.S. doctor with prior financial ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to be a part of its investigative team that probed the origins of COVID-19 in China in early 2021.
Peter Daszak’s involvement in the WHO’s investigative panel has been described as a conflict of interest by U.S.-based epidemiologists and medical groups. Prior to the pandemic, Daszak, as president of the nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance, routed $600,000 in taxpayer funds to the WIV in the form of National Institutes of Health subgrants to fund studies into bat-based coronaviruses.
And during the early stages of the pandemic, Daszak orchestrated a statement published in The Lancet medical journal that condemned “conspiracy theories” suggesting COVID-19 does not have a natural origin. A spokesperson for Daszak later told The Wall Street Journal that the statement was meant to protect Chinese scientists from “online harassment.” (RELATED: WHO COVID-19 Investigator Tried To Hide Involvement In Pro-China Statement, Email Reveals)
Despite his prior connections to the WIV, which is at the center of growing speculation that it could have unintentionally leaked COVID-19 into the human population, the WHO appointed Daszak to be the sole-U.S. representative in its 10-person panel that investigated the pandemic’s origins in China in January and February.