Chinese scientists in Wuhan planned to genetically engineer coronaviruses that were more infectious to human beings and release them into nearby bat populations, according to leaked documents obtained by The Telegraph.
Researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology drafted a proposal that would have allowed them to genetically enhance airborne coronaviruses and release their “novel chimeric spike proteins” among cave bats in Yunnan, China.
They also wanted to alter coronaviruses by introducing “human-specific cleavage sites” that would make them more transmissible among human beings.
They submitted the project in 2018 to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is a part of the Defense Department, but DARPA rejected it over fears that it would qualify as gain-of-function research, which is restricted by the U.S. government.
“It is clear that the proposed project … could have put local communities at risk,” DARPA said in its rejection.
The proposal was spearheaded by Peter Daszak, the head of EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based firm that channeled millions of dollars in U.S. funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
These documents make it clear that Wuhan scientists were at least trying to conduct gain-of-function research, which lends additional credibility to the theory that COVID-19 originated in and escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Several GOP lawmakers have demanded additional information on the research being conducted in Wuhan, which would include additional testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who helped secure U.S. funding for EcoHealth Alliance and through it, the Wuhan lab.
“Unfortunately, Members have attempted to get answers from public health officials to no avail. Officials, such as Dr. Fauci, have misled the public about the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funding of gain-of-function research,” a group of House Republicans wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.