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A call for the resignation of Dr. Peter Daszak.
Ms. Nancye Green
EcoHealth Alliance
520, Eighth Avenue,
Ste 1200
New York, NY10018
Ms. Carlota Vollhardt
Vice Chair,
EcoHealth Alliance
520, Eighth Avenue,
Ste 1200
New York NY10018
Dr. Peter Daszak
EcoHealth Alliance
520, Eighth Avenue,
Ste 1200
New York NY10018
Mr. Xavier Becerra
Secretary of HHS,
US Dpt of Health and
Human Services
200 Independence
Avenue, SW
Washington, DC
Dr. Francis S. Collins
National Institutes of
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892
September 30, 2021
Subject: Call for the Board of EcoHealth Alliance to remove Dr. Peter Daszak as
President of their organization
Dear Chairperson Green,
The role of “EcoHealth Alliance” (EHA) - the organization you chair - in the emergence
of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its subsequent role in the pandemic investigation, have
become increasingly controversial and are now attracting much attention.
Only a few days ago, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable
Development at Columbia University and Chairman of the Covid-19 Lancet
Commission, dissolved the ‘Lancet Task Force on the Origins’ and was quoted in the
Wall Street Journal as saying:
“I just didn’t want a task force that was so clearly involved with one of the main
issues of this whole search for the origins, which was EcoHealth Alliance.”
Unfortunately, the driving force behind this unwelcome media and scientific attention
stems from the actions and behaviour of EHA President Dr. Peter Daszak, whether in
his official capacity as President of EcoHealth Alliance, as a scientific authority, or as a
key member of the WHO-China mission investigating the origins of COVID-19. Dr.
Daszak has now been proven to have concealed several extreme situations of conflict of
interest, withheld critical information and misled public opinion by expressing
falsehoods. Despite that, we have not seen any indication at all of disapproval of the
behavior of Dr. Daszak by the EHA Board, nor are we aware of any investigation by the
Board, as would seemingly be required under New York law.
The stated mission of EHA is to “lead cutting-edge scientific research into the critical
connections between human and wildlife health and delicate ecosystems. With this
science, we develop solutions that prevent pandemics and promote conservation.” We
note that such an important mission requires essential public and institutional trust
allied to an ethical and sound leadership.
Because of Dr. Daszak’s unacceptable behavior, and of the serious consequences for the
valuable causes that EHA supports, we are deeply concerned by the absence of any
discernible public criticism or meaningful response from EHA Board.
Among numerous liberties taken by Peter Daszak with regards to ethical and scientific
norms, here a few examples out of many documented by journalists and scientists :
- Dr. Daszak repeatedly claimed that there was “zero evidence” that a laboratory
incident played any role in the emergence and propagation of the SARS-CoV-2
virus. He went as far as to castigate and demonize those who pointed to the lack of
available data beyond very tentative generalizations, using derogatory and
slanderous expressions such as “conspiracy theorists”. As you must know, a
research-related accident is now officially considered a plausible scenario that it
would be irresponsible to neglect, and that the WHO itself has firmly included in
its latest origins initiative.
- Dr. Daszak wrongly claimed that his collaborators at the WIV did not keep live
bats. Instead, records show that the WIV has occasionally held wild caught bats
since 2009, applied for patents concerning bat cages and bat colonies upkeep, and
even officially registered 12 bat cages in 2017. Given that the DEFUSE grant
application mentions plans for WIV to keep 20 captive Rhinolophus bats, Dr
Daszak must have been already aware of these developments at the very least back
in early 2018.
- Dr. Daszak has made many conflicting claims about the WIV databases of virus
samples and sequences (all now offline), and then proceeded to convince the WHO
team not to look into the issue. He described these databases as an ‘Excel
spreadsheet’ when actually these are 16 databases with 600 GBs of data. He
variously declared that he knew what was in these DBs (when talking to the WHO
team) or that he could not access important data from these DBs without Chinese
cooperation (when asking for EHA NIH grants to be reinstated). He further
justified their unavailability since Sep 2019 by repeating the unfounded claims that
they were taken offline to protect them from hackers during the pandemic because
of hacking attacks.
- The recently emerged DEFUSE grant proposal is particularly consternating. It
proposes creating novel chimeric viruses that are optimized to infect humans and
that could unleash unknown and untold havoc, including experiments with
MERS-CoV which is far more deadly than SARS-CoV2. Beyond misrepresenting
GoF research, the proposal is also at best incredibly sloppy when it comes to
biosafety, Dual Use Research of Concern, ELSI (ethical, legal and societal issues).
All reasons cited by DARPA to refuse the grant.
- Planning to make 3 to 6 GoF human-optimized virus constructs per year under the
DEFUSE grant proposal is shocking enough on its own. To do so with such disdain
for biosafety, DURC or ELSI is a professional failure of the highest level and should
be enough to conclude that Dr. Daszak has gone a step too far, and is putting his
colleagues and human lives in danger.
- Last, the fact that Dr. Daszak never mentioned the existence of that essential
DEFUSE grant proposal, while assuming important and very vocal positions on the
origins of the SARS-CoV2 virus for the WHO and for the Lancet Commission,
shows profound disrespect for scientific and ethical norms that is without
precedent. Both the Lancet Commission and the WHO have now distanced
themselves from Dr. Daszak.
Dr. Daszak’s behaviour has already caused enormous damage to public trust in science
and scientists, and will likely resonate for many years to come as a low point in scientific
integrity, in the US and beyond.
Despite this turmoil, EcoHealth Alliance still represents a valuable scientific mission
and a key message for our present and future generations. However we have reached the
unavoidable conclusion that this mission will be greatly compromised if there is any
further involvement of Dr. Daszak with EcoHealth Alliance.
We therefore call on the Board of EcoHealth Alliance to fulfill its role and
take immediate steps toward the removal of Dr. Peter Daszak from the
presidency of your organization.
Yours Sincerely,
- Fabien Colombo, PhD Candidate, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France
- Virginie Courtier, PhD, Senior Researcher, Institut Jacques Monod, France
- Gilles Demaneuf, Data Scientist & OSINT, New Zealand (member of DRASTIC)
- Andre M. Goffinet, Emeritus Professor, U. Louvain, Belgium (member of DRASTIC)
-Hideki Kakeya, Associate Professor, U. Tsukuba, Japan
-Milton Leitenberg, University of Maryland, School of Public Affairs USA
- Jamie Metzl, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council, USA
- Monali C. Rahalkar, Dr.rer.nat. Scientist, Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, India
(member of DRASTIC)
-Charles Rixey, MS, MBA, Historian and Analyst, USA (member of DRASTIC)
- Roland Wiesendanger, Professor, U. Hamburg, Germany
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