EcoHealth Alliance Statement Regarding Book by Andrew Huff

RE: Publication of Andrew Huff’s The Truth About Wuhan

December 5, 2022

Andrew Huff, a former employee of the EcoHealth Alliance, has published a book entitled The Truth About Wuhan: How I Uncovered the Biggest Lie in History.  According to press reports, Mr Huff claims that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of a lab leak from research conducted by the Wuhan Institute of Virology in collaboration with EcoHealth Alliance. 

Mr. Huff is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts.  The actual “truth about Wuhan” is: 

1) Mr. Huff was employed by the EcoHealth Alliance from 2014 to 2016.  However, reports that he worked at or with the Wuhan Institute of Virology during that time are untrue.  He was assigned to a completely different project working on computer-based algorithms to assess emerging disease threats.

2) Mr. Huff alleges that EcoHealth Alliance was engaged in gain of function research to create SARS-CoV-2. This is not true. 

3) Mr. Huff makes a number of other speculations and allegations about the nature of the collaboration between EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  Given that he never worked at or with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, his assertions along these lines cannot be trusted.

4) Mr. Huff claims that SARS-CoV-2 emerged as a lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology based on research conducted there on bat coronaviruses and, further, that this research was related to U.S. intelligence gathering efforts. This is not true.

Dr. Francis Collins, then Director of the U. S. National Institutes of Health issued the following statement on October 20, 2021: “NIH wants to set the record straight on NIH-supported research to understand naturally occurring bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, funded through a subaward from NIH grantee EcoHealth Alliance. Analysis of published genomic data and other documents from the grantee demonstrate that the naturally occurring bat coronaviruses studied under the NIH grant are genetically far distant from SARS-CoV-2 and could not possibly have caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Any claims to the contrary are demonstrably false.

The scientific evidence to date indicates that the virus is likely the result of viral evolution in nature, potentially jumping directly to humans or through an unidentified intermediary animal host. Historically, many viruses have emerged from animals to cause epidemics and pandemics, including influenza, Ebola, Zika, West Nile fever, SARS, and more. Importantly, after an intensive investigation, agencies in the U.S Intelligence Community agreed that the virus was not developed as a biological weapon and most agencies assessed that SARS-CoV-2 most likely was not genetically engineered.”
https://www.nih.gov/about-nih/who-we-are/nih-director/statements/statement-misinformation-about-sars-cov-2-origins

5) Mr. Huff argues that the origin of COVID-19 is definitely due to a lab leak, yet he provides no scientific evidence to support his case.  To the contrary, the emerging consensus, based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence, is that COVID-19 originated through zoonotic spillover.  Substantial published scientific evidence indicates that COVID-19 originated via a similar pathway to SARS, involving a spillover from bats to intermediate animal hosts, then to people within the wildlife trade, leading to the first known cluster in the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The hypothesis that SARS-COV-2 was created in a laboratory is now widely considered less probable than emergence via the wildlife trade. A recent report by the Independent Task Force on COVID-19 and Other Pandemic Origins, Prevention, and Response, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reviews the considerable peer-reviewed literature and concludes that the preponderance of the evidence is most consistent with COVID-19’s origin as a zoonotic infection within the wildlife trade. While a lab leak cannot be absolutely ruled out, the Independent Task Force found no verifiable and credible evidence or scientific data to support this interpretation.

Here is the link to the PNAS paper and its supplement (see Table S6) containing links to all of the available published (and some unpublished) evidence on COVID-19 origins:  https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2202871119 .

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