Pre-pandemic video shows Wuhan lab funder describing Chinese scientists creating ‘killer’ viruses

“We have just got to do it.”
Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, in Wuhan, China

A newly unearthed video shows infectious disease researcher Peter Daszak—the U.S.-based scientist known for sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Chinese coronavirus lab prior to the COVID-19 pandemic—describing his “colleagues in China” altering coronaviruses to turn them into “killers.”

The video shows Daszak taking part in a 2016 panel on the “history & future of pandemics” at the New York Academy of Medicine. It was reported on this week by National Pulse. 

In the exchange, Daszak describes what appears to be “gain of function” research occurring in China, a type of experiment in which scientists increase the pathogenicity or infectiousness of a virus to study its potential for spilling over into humanity.

“When you get a sequence of a virus, and it looks like a relative of a known nasty pathogen,” Daszak says in the video, “...we sequence the spike protein, the protein that attaches to cells, and then we—well, I didn’t do this work, my colleagues in China do the work.”

“You create pseudo-particles,” he continued, “you insert the spike proteins from those viruses, see if they bind to human cells. Each step of this, you move closer and closer to, ‘This virus could really become pathogenic in people’.” 

“So you narrow down the field,” he went on. “You reduce the cost, and you end up with a small number of viruses that really do look like killers.”

“I think we’ve just got to do it,” he added later. “It just makes sense economically, and for humanity's sake.”

The video is the second unearthed so far of Daszak describing his association with gain-of-function research; another clip last month showed him apparently admitting that research by Chinese scientists was subsequently used in gain-of-function research in the United States.

Daszak has been at the center of controversy and scrutiny since early last year when it became known that in the years leading up to the pandemic he had sent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory that sits just a few miles from the first known outbreak of SARS-Cov-2. 

That facility has been at the center of the “lab-leak” hypothesis, which posits that the SARS-Cov-2 virus may have accidentally leaked from the WIV and launched the pandemic.