A U.S. doctor who is part of the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic discussed his work manipulating bat-based coronaviruses in labs just weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
Dr. Peter Daszak, a close associate with China’s premier bat-based coronavirus researcher and a key figure in directing taxpayer funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, explained how easy it was to alter coronaviruses during a podcast interview filmed Dec. 9, 2019.
“You can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily,” Daszak said. “Spike protein drives a lot of what happens with the coronavirus. Zoonotic risk. So you can get the sequence, you can build the protein — and we work with Ralph Baric at [the University of North Carolina] to do this — and insert the backbone of another virus and do some work in the lab.”
It’s unclear where the coronavirus manipulation Daszak described in the podcast, also known as gain of function research, was conducted. Daszak did not return multiple requests for comment.