Richard Horton (pictured), the editor of the Lancet, admitted he knew about the lead author behind a letter denouncing the Covid lab-leak theory Peter Daszak's Chinese affiliations more than a year before the journal published an amendment

Richard Horton admitted that he was aware of Peter Daszak (right), the Covid Lab-leak Theory lead author in a Lancet letter. This revelation came more than one year after the journal published an Addendum.

According to the editor of one the top medical journals worldwide, it took him over a year before declaring the conflict of interest in a scientist who denied the Covid lab leak theory.

The Lancet’s editor, Dr Richard Horton stated that publishing an official statement of conflict of interests revealed Peter Daszack was connected to the Wuhan Laboratory at the center of the spillover theory. It took 16 months.

Dr Daszak organised the letter in February 2020, co-signed by 26 other leading researchers which condemned ‘conspiracy theories’ that Covid-19 did not arise naturally.

It is believed that the move has ended any discussion about whether or not the virus had escaped from a laboratory last year. The zoologist was a Lancastrian living in New York. However, he had ties with Wuhan Institute of Virology for 15 years.

During a grilling from MPs on the Science and Technology Select Committee on Wednesday, Dr Horton was forced to defend the 16-month delay before Dr Daszak’s important conflicts of interest were finally published in a memorandum in the journal this June.

Dr Horton, who was honoured at The Great Hall of the People in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 2008, to mark an ‘unprecedented’ collaboration between Peking University and The Lancet, admitted to MPs: ‘A hundred per cent, I completely agree, the information that we published in June as an addendum should definitely have been included in the February letter.’

However, he said to the committee that Dr Daszak took more than one year to get him to officially record his China connections.

The Lancet editor said: ‘We ended up having a debate with him about, well, do you have a competing interest or not?’ 

Dr Daszak said that he was an expert about bat coronaviruses and their Chinese counterparts. His view merits attention. Dr Horton said: ‘It took us over a year to persuade him to declare his full competing interest, which we eventually did in June of this year.’

The journal editor was accused of doing ‘too little too late’ by Conservative MP Aaron Bell, who also questioned whether the controversial original Lancet letter had ‘served to close down scientific debate’.

On why Dr Daszak’s links with Wuhan Institute of Virology had not been checked, Dr Horton said: ‘We ask everybody who submits a piece that’s accepted for publication in The Lancet to declare their competing interests, and we take those statements on trust.

‘And in this particular case, regrettably, the authors claim that they have no competing interests, and of course… there were indeed competing interests that were significant, particularly in relation to Peter Daszak.’

A Lancet office was opened in Beijing in 2010, in addition to the New York office and London headquarters.

In 2015, Dr Horton travelled to Beijing to receive the Friendship Award from China – the highest honour awarded to ‘foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress’.

He claimed yesterday that China faced a ‘blame game’ over the origins of the pandemic, despite admitting that it had denied the World Health Organisation access to crucial information needed for an investigation into the cause of the outbreak. 

Emails leaked earlier this year showed that Dr Daszak wrote the Lancet letter, dismissing other causes, like a laboratory leak, and calling them conspiracy theories.

As president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation researching emerging infectious diseases, he asked colleagues to sign and ‘circulate it among some eminent scientists’.

On the ‘debate’ with Dr Daszak over his conflicts of interest, Dr Horton told MPs: ‘It’s quite an interesting debate, because his view was, look, I’m an expert in working in China on bat coronaviruses. 

That isn’t a competing interest – it actually makes me an expert with a view that should be listened to. Our take was, well, in the court of public opinion, that is a competing interest you should declare.’

Dr Horton faced comparisons with The Lancet’s notorious publication of a paper linking the MMR vaccine to autism, by disgraced academic Dr Andrew Wakefield, which was only retracted 12 years later.

Labour MP Graham Stringer said: ‘Was nothing learnt about trust in The Lancet from the experience with Wakefield?’

Virologist Shi Zheng-li works with her colleague in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Hubei province

Shi Zhengli, Virologist at Wuhan Institute of Virology (Hubei province), works together with her coworker in the P4 Lab.

A May 2021 report from The Wall Street Journal cited an undisclosed intelligence report detailing how three scientists from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019, months before China disclosed the outbreak

The Wall Street Journal published a May 2021 article citing an unreleased intelligence report that detailed how three scientists from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology sought medical care in November 2019. This was months before China revealed the outbreak.

President Xi is alleged to have significant influence over WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian minister whose country has been a major recipient of Chinese investment

President Xi may have had significant influence over Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO director general, a former Ethiopian Minister whose country is a big recipient of Chinese investment.

Dr Peter Daszak

Peter Daszak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic

During the session, Harvard scientist Dr Alina Chan said the Wuhan lab leak is now the most likely origin of the coronavirus pandemic because China tried to cover it up and because experts still haven’t found an animal host despite extensive searching.

She stated that it was a reasonable idea to believe the virus could have been genetically modified.

She cited a few coincidences in Covid’s timeline and claimed that China’s state-sponsored Chinese cover up of early pandemic stages added suspicion.


Wuhan laboratory-leak theory: Evidence

A May 14th Science Journal article sparked interest in the laboratory-leak theory.

The journal featured 18 experts who wrote that hypotheses regarding natural spillovers and lab spillovers must be taken seriously, until sufficient data is available.

Later that month, a study by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr Birger Sørensen claimed it had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year.

It was alleged that Chinese laboratory data had been deliberately destroyed, concealed or contaminated.

It followed statements from the WHO Director General, US and EU that greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve. 

Previously, the theory had been dismissed as conspiracy by most experts, partly because of its association with President Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden in May ordered a full investigation into the origin of the pandemic virus and demanded scientists work out whether there is truth to the theory.

The head of the World Health Organization insisted just a day earlier that the theory that Covid emerged from a Wuhan lab has not been ruled out — as he said China should help solve the mystery out of ‘respect’ for the dead.  

The body’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, suggested that Beijing had not cooperated fully as he urged more ‘transparency’ in the continuing investigation. 

Evidence against the theory 

Several other sects of the scientific community continue to suggest the virus could only be natural in origin.

A series of recent papers pointed to the virus evolving in animals before being transmitted to humans, in the same way as all other previously discovered coronaviruses.

The first study, published in Scientific Reports, showed some 47,000 wild animals from 38 species were sold across four markets in Wuhan between May 2017 and November 2019.

The authors, including Dr Chris Newman, an evolutionary ecologist at Oxford University, claimed the evidence showed the conditions for animal-to-human transmission were in place in Wuhan.

But they acknowledged there was no proof Sars-CoV-2 was present or originated in any of these animals.

A joint World Health Organization-China investigation also concluded it was ‘very likely’ the virus jumped from bats to humans via an as-yet-unknown intermediary animal.

Speaking to the Science and Technology Select Committee, Dr Chan said: ‘I think the lab origin is more likely than not.

‘Right now it’s not safe for people who know about the origin of the pandemic to come forward. 

‘But we live in an era where there is so much information being stored that it will eventually come out.

‘We have heard from many top virologists that a genetically engineered origin is reasonable and that includes virologists who made modifications to the first Sars virus.’

Dr Chan, who wrote a book on the origin of the virus, added: ‘We know this virus has a unique feature, called the furin cleavage site, and without this feature there is no way this would be causing this pandemic.

‘A proposal was leaked showing that EcoHealth and the Wuhan Institute of Virology were developing a pipeline for inserting novel furin cleavage sites. 

‘So, you find these scientists who said in early 2018 ‘I’m going to put horns on horses’ and at the end of 2019 a unicorn turns up in Wuhan city.’

Viscount Matt Ridley, who co-authored the book with Dr Chan, also said a lab leak is now the most likely theory because experts have still not found the animal host that would support a natural origin despite two years of extensive searching.

Recent revelations of China’s attempted cover-up have forced British and US intelligence officials to take seriously the lab-leak hypothesis, once dismissed as a crank conspiracy theory.   

Lord Ridley said: ‘I also think it’s more likely than not because we have to face the fact after two months we knew the origins of SARS, and after a couple of months we knew MERS was though through camels, but after two years we still haven’t found a single infected animal that could be the progenitor, and that’s incredibly surprising.

‘We need to find out so we can prevent the next pandemic. We need to know whether we should be tightening up work in laboratories or whether we should be tightening up regulations related to wildlife markets. At the moment we are really not doing either. 

‘We also need to know to deter bad actors who are watching this episode and thinking that unleashing a pandemic is something they could get away with.’

A May 2021 report from The Wall Street Journal cited an undisclosed intelligence report detailing how three scientists from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sought hospital care in November 2019, months before China disclosed the Covid pandemic.

The lab specialised in engineering dangerous coronaviruses and is the only level four biochemical lab in China.

An article in the respected Science journal on May 14 kick-started the surge in interest for the lab-leak theory.

Some 18 experts wrote in the journal that ‘we must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data’.

Later that month, a study by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr Birger Sørensen claimed it had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year.

The study included accusations of ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ at Chinese labs.

This was in response to statements made by the WHO Director General and the US, EU and EU that more clarity is needed and possible about the source of the pandemic.

Previously, the theory had been dismissed as conspiracy by most experts, partly because of its association with Donald Trump.

Joe Biden, the President of the United States, ordered May’s investigation into the cause of the pandemic and asked scientists to determine if the theories are true.

The head of the WHO insisted just a day earlier that the theory that Covid emerged from a Wuhan lab has not been ruled out – as he said China should help solve the mystery out of ‘respect’ for the dead.


Security personnel keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the visit by the WHO team tasked with investigating the origins of Covid, February 3, 2021

Security personnel keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the visit by the WHO team tasked with investigating the origins of Covid, February 3, 2021

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was the body’s Director-General. He suggested Beijing may not have cooperated as much and called for greater transparency during the ongoing investigation.

How British expert Dr Peter Daszak orchestrated a ‘bullying’ campaign 

A British expert orchestrated a behind-the-scenes ‘bullying’ campaign to ensure blame for Covid was directed away from a Chinese lab with which he had worked closely.

Dr Peter Daszak, 55, from Manchester, persuaded 26 other scientists to sign off on a letter he had written to world-leading scientific journal The Lancet claiming the virus could only have been natural in origin and to suggest otherwise creates ‘fear, rumours, and prejudice’.

The letter flatly denied the virus could have originated in a lab in Wuhan and dismissed it as a ‘conspiracy theory’. 

Dr Daszak runs the New York-based, tax payer-funded non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, which has funnelled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

He worked closely with the lab’s so-called ‘bat woman’ Shi Zhengli as they investigated and modified coronaviruses. 

Shi, 57, proved that horseshoe bats were behind a SARS virus that killed nearly 800 people in 2002 and has collected thousands of samples from bat caves.

Dr Daszak was one four Brits to sign the letter, including SAGE advisor Sir Jeremy Farrar and two other experts working for the Welcome Trust at the time. The letters’ signatories included four others who worked for EcoHealth.

The letter was seen as so influential it cowed most experts into refusing even to consider that the virus could have been man-made and escaped from the Wuhan Institute.

However, several other sects of the scientific community continue to suggest the virus could only be natural in origin.

A number of papers from recent years have indicated that this virus was first transmitted to animals, just like all coronaviruses.

The first study, published in Scientific Reports , showed some 47,000 wild animals from 38 species were sold across four markets in Wuhan between May 2017 and November 2019.

One of the authors was Dr Chris Newman from Oxford University. He claimed that the evidence demonstrated the Wuhan conditions were favorable for the transmission of animal-to human genetic material.

However, they did not deny that Sars-CoV-2 could have been in any of the animals.

The WHO and China also found that it is very likely the virus passed from bats to human via an unknown intermediary animal. 

Lord Ridley criticised the Lancet’s lack of transparency. Dr Daszak was only revealed to have links to the laboratory and his role in writing the letter after the leak. 

In the grilling with MPs, Dr Horton insisted he did not know about the scientist’s connections to the lab’s so-called ‘bat woman’ Shi Zhengli – who did experimental research on coronaviruses coming from thousands of samples from the animal – until after the letter was published.

But he admitted that his opinion on the theory has now changed, calling it a ‘valid hypothesis that requires investigation’. 

Dr Horton explained that Lancet generally accepts declarations by authors of interest as true.

He stated that although the authors had claimed no interest in this matter, there were competing interests which were important. This was especially true for Peter Daszak.

“While we didn’t realize of these competing interests, we were made aware very quickly afterward because of the public scrutiny he received.”  

Dr Horton added that the World Health Organization’s investigation into the lab – which in March this year concluded that the leak theory was one of four valid hypotheses for Covid’s origins – had changed his mind that it was impossible for the virus to have come from anything other than natural origin.

But he said he agreed with the organisation’s assertion that it was an unlikely hypothesis – despite acknowledging that the investigation was hampered by Chinese authorities.

When asked to give a percentage estimate of his belief in the theory, the man replied: “I agree with World Health Organization that this is a valid hypothesis. It requires investigation. But it is very unlikely.” 

Lord Ridley slammed Dr Daszak for not revealing his direct role in funding controversial gain-of-function research – which manipulates viruses to make them more transmissible and deadly and is illegal in Europe – at the lab until the information was leaked.

He said that it was “extraordinary” that Dr Daszak was not implicated in the orchestration of the Lancet Letter until emails leaked. 

He stated:[Daszak]His co-authors were told that the information should not be attributed to him. He continued to serve on the Lancet commission for several months investigating the origin of Covid.

When naming the Covid variant, the World Health Organisation “begruded to China”, they skipped a letter of the Greek alphabet 

When naming the Covid variant, the World Health Organisation is accused of bowing before China.

The agency on Friday announced that it would be calling the new strain Omicron – jumping over the letter Xi, which is also the name of China’s premier Xi Jinping.

WHO stated that Xi is a common surname’. This allowed the WHO to eliminate’stigma’ from Xi and avoid ‘causing offence’ to ‘cultural social, ethnic, regional, professional or cultural groups.

However, critics claimed that the WHO was’scared of’ the Chinese Communist Party.

This group was already accused of overseeing an investigation to whitewash the origins the Chinese pandemic in Wuhan. They also ignored evidence that it could have been started in a laboratory.

Famously, President Xi has a thin skin. He is said to have ban Winnie the Pooh from China because of his resemblance with the bear.

Because they were easy to pronounce and don’t stigmatize, the WHO decided to name new variants after Greek letters rather than May’s place of appearance.

Omicron was the fifth variant to be identified as a variant of serious concern. Other variants – such as Epsilon, Lambda and Mu – were categorised as ‘of interest’ so went largely unnoticed outside the scientific community.

Ted Cruz, a Texas senator tweeted that the WHO was so afraid of the Chinese Communist Party it is hard to believe they will call them out when they try to hide a global pandemic.

“So there’s been a serious lack of transparency from both the Chinese and Western authorities on this. It seems to be a major problem.” 

The Sunday Times published an investigative report earlier in the year that revealed Beijing was trying to manipulate WHO decision-making, derail investigations and even put officials into office.

According to the newspaper, WHO did not publicly question Chinese misinformation and delayed declaring an emergency. It also discouraged countries from imposing travel bans against China in order to safeguard its economy.

There has been speculation that officials made a “backroom deal” with Chinese officials to reduce the scope of the inquiry into Covid-19’s source.

Scientists were able to steer away from the idea that coronavirus escaped from Wuhan’s laboratory and came from wild animals at a city wet market in December 2019.

WHO initially rejected the theory as unlikely, but experts believe that there was human error in the laboratory’s initial assessment.

It is claimed that China and the WHO had close ties, which has affected the WHO’s ability challenge China about the emerging of the virus.

China is believed to have been using financial leverage on poorer countries for some time in order to get its desired figures appointed as key representatives at UN-governed UN agencies such as WHO.

Tedros is the WHO’s chief decision-maker. He is also a friend and longtime Chinese friend. In January 2020, Tedros met President Xi and was there two months before the pandemic. 

There were approximately 130 Chinese-funded official finance projects in Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2012. Some of these totalled hundreds of millions of pounds and built hydroelectric dams, and provided agricultural machinery.

Zimbabwe was among 53 nations that backed the Hong Kong security law at UN in June 2013. This legislation, which is criticized by Western countries as an attempt to clamp down on protestors, and allow free speech from China, was supported by 53 other countries.

American Infectious Disease Society Fellow Richard Ebright stated to the Times that China had played a crucial role in the Agency’s failures to act. 

“There is no medical, policy or scientific justification for what the WHO did in January 2020.” This was completely based upon maintaining satisfactory relations to the Chinese government’, he stated.

“Through this process, WHO actively resisted or obstructed attempts by other countries to implement effective borders controls that could have reduced the spread or contained the outbreak. 

Tedros received a remarkable return on investment for his support, especially when you consider the influence and money he used to get elected.

An organisation spokesperson retorted against the claims and stated that “WHO’s top priority” is to end the Covid-19 epidemic.

Later, they added that “The Sunday Times article is riddled in inaccuracies falsehoods half-truths unsubstantiated assertions willful distortions etc. and was not consistent with the predetermined premise of this story.”

“There were several independent reviews on the response of Covid-19 around the world, which included WHO’s work. These reviews noted the organization’s work and early warnings.

The WHO has stated that the end of the COVID-19 epidemic is the WHO’s primary priority. They are now supporting the implementation of comprehensive and evidence-based solutions by countries. These include consistent public health measures as well as equitable access to life-saving vaccines.

“In particular we work to make it possible for all countries, including health workers, elderly people, and vulnerable groups to get vaccinated. This is at a moment when only 10 countries are responsible for 75% of vaccines.