Lancet COVID-19 Commission Chair Says Virus Probably Came Out of Dangerous U.S.-Funded Research ‘Gone Awry’

The chair of the Lancet’s COVID-19 commission revealed in a recent interview that he is “pretty convinced” that COVID-19 came out of extremely dangerous lab biotechnology research that was supported by the United States.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and the President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, told the left-wing journal Current Affairs that through his investigations as the head of the COVID-19 commission, he has concluded that “there is extremely dangerous biotechnology research being kept from public view, that the United States was supporting much of this research, and that it is very possible that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, originated through dangerous virus research gone awry.”

During the interview, the professor described the dangerous research championed by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci as “mind-boggling.”

Prof. Sachs told Current Affairs journalist Nathan Robinson that he believes that there is clear proof that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other members of the scientific community “have been impeding a serious investigation of the origins of COVID-19.” He recently called for an independent inquiry into the virus’s origins in a co-authored a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Robinson pressed him about his belief that COVID came out of U.S. lab biotechnology, citing studies touted by The New Times in the past year that “debunk” the claim.

“In a review of recent studies and comparisons to other outbreaks, a group of virologists contends that there is more evidence to support a natural spillover from animals to humans,” the Times reported.  “Scientists released a pair of extensive studies over the weekend that point to a large food and live animal market in Wuhan, China, as the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The journalist asked Sachs what led him to believe the above statements are misleading.

“Well, the funny thing is those scientists who are saying that said the same thing on February 4, 2020, before they had done any research at all,” the professor replied. “And they published the same statement in March 2020, before they had any facts at all. So they’re creating a narrative. And they’re denying the alternative hypothesis without looking closely at it. That’s the basic point.”

Now, what is the alternative hypothesis? The alternative hypothesis is quite straightforward. And that is that there was a lot of research underway in the United States and China on taking SARS-like viruses, manipulating them in the laboratory, and creating potentially far more dangerous viruses. And the particular virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-Cov-2, is notable because it has a piece of its genetic makeup that makes the virus more dangerous. And that piece of the genome is called the “furin cleavage site.” Now, what’s interesting, and concerning if I may say so, is that the research that was underway very actively and being promoted, was to insert furin cleavage sites into SARS-like viruses to see what would happen. Oops!

Well, that is what may have happened. And what has been true from the start is that that very real possibility, which a lot of scientists know, has not been looked at closely, even though it’s absolutely clear that it could have happened that way. They’re not looking. They just keep telling us, “Look at the market, look at the market, look at the market!” But they don’t address this alternative. They don’t even look at the data. They don’t even ask questions. And the truth is from the beginning, they haven’t asked the real questions.

NIH/NIAID emails released in June of 2021 through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealed that in January and February of 2020, Fauci was already hearing from colleagues that the emerging coronavirus global pandemic looked potentially engineered.

On Feb. 1, Fauci emailed NIAID Principal Deputy Director Dr. Hugh Auchincloss with an urgent message. The subject line was “IMPORTANT,” and attached was a 2015 paper from Nature Medicine describing the risky gain-of-function research on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“Hugh, it is essential that we speak this AM,” he wrote. “Read this paper… You will have tasks today that must be done.”

Sachs told Robinson that the beginning of the coverup may have began with that Feb. 1 phone call where a group of virologists said “Oh my god, that is strange, that could well be a laboratory creation. What is that furin cleavage site doing in there?”

Because scientists knew that was part of an active ongoing research program. And yet, by February 3, the same group is saying “No, no, it’s natural, it’s natural.” By February 4, they start to draft the papers that are telling the public, “Don’t worry, it’s natural.” By March, they write a paper—totally spurious, in my view—called the proximal origins paper that is the most cited bio paper in 2020. It said: it is absolutely natural. [Note: the paper’s conclusion is “we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.”] But they didn’t have any of the data that you read about in the New York Times. They didn’t have any of this. They just said the labs weren’t working on this alternative. But you know what, they don’t know what the labs were working on, because they never asked, and NIH hasn’t told us.

Robinson asked Sachs if he was sure that gain-of function research “was in fact actually ongoing somewhere.”

The professor said that there is “enormous reason to believe that it was,” including the fact “the scientists that were doing that research loved that research.” He added that he believes talk about the Huanan market is just “misdirection.”

“It’s like sleight of hand art. Don’t look over there. Look over here,” Sachs said. “But we know that there was a tremendous amount of this research underway.”

We have interviews by the lead scientists. We have these research proposals. I know the intention of doing this research from discussions. I’ve read so many studies of the importance of this research claimed by the scientists. And yet I see NIH with its head in the ground. “Oh, no, nothing here to look at.” And then I see the scientists. “Oh, nothing here to look at. We know it’s the market. Did we find an animal? No. Do we have an explanation of where that furin cleavage site came in? No. We don’t have an explanation of the timing, which doesn’t quite look right. Oh, but don’t look over there, because there’s nothing there,” they keep telling us. Well, that’s a little silly.

Sachs noted that the extensive gain-of-function research program was funded and championed by the NIH, and by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, in particular.

“The champions of this research explained in detail their proposals. But after the event, we’d never asked them, ‘So what were you actually doing? What experiments did you do? What do you know?’ We somehow never asked. It was better just to sweep it under the rug, which is what Fauci and the NIH have done up until this point. Maybe they could tell us, ‘Oh, full exoneration,’ but they haven’t told us that at all. They haven’t shown us anything.”

Robinson opined that it’s “very important to make clear” that the lab leak theory is “about an accident, and scientific hubris.”

“It’s important to distinguish the kooky theories from the incredibly plausible theories,” he said. “Because what you’re talking about is people who did not appreciate the dangers of what they were doing.”

In response, Sachs said, “there’s nothing ‘kooky’ about it, because it’s precisely what the scientists were doing.”

And then you can listen to the scientists on tape describing why they think the research program is so important, because they say these are dangerous viruses, and therefore we have to prepare broad spectrum vaccines and drugs. They explain it’s not good enough to test one or two viruses. We have to test all of them. And then they came to realize, as I said earlier, that just having a SARS-like virus, if it doesn’t have this piece of the gene, it’s almost surely not going to be that effective. So they got around to the idea. “Well, let’s put these in,” if you can imagine that. To my mind, it’s mind-boggling.

Sachs told Robinson that he was calling for the investigation, “not a conclusion.”

“Finally, after two and a half years of this, it’s time to fess up that it might have come out of a lab and here’s the data that we need to know to find out whether it did,” he said.



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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: NEW DELHI, INDIA - DECEMBER 3: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, University Professor, Columbia University, in a discussion with Mihir Shah, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Shiv Nadar University, during the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2016, at Taj Palace, on December 3, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)