Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is urging President Joe Biden to make sure that the World Health Organization (WHO) chooses investigators who are free from conflicts of interest when studying the origins of the CCP virus.
“I respectfully request you use your leadership to ensure the ongoing investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic origin be free from conflict of interest,” Blackburn stated in a letter (pdf) dated March 1.
“Concerns have been raised regarding the manner in which World Health Organization investigators were chosen to study the outbreak. … WHO should not include researchers with conflicts of interest or with a lack of experience in forensic investigation.”
The WHO team—which consisted of 17 Chinese experts and 17 foreign experts from 10 countries—recently conducted a fact-finding mission in central China’s Wuhan city, to investigate the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. The team conducted fieldwork for two weeks in Wuhan before presenting their preliminary findings at a virtual press conference on Feb. 9.
Their initial findings have been questioned given that some members of the team, including Peter Daszak and Marion Koopmans, have ties to the Chinese regime. Daszak is a U.S.–UK dual national who heads EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit that works in pandemic prevention, while Koopmans is a Dutch virologist.
For example, Daszak said in a conference sponsored by China’s state-run media CGTN in 2018 that his organization received “federal funding from China.”
“We owe this to the over 500,000 Americans who have died from this disease, to their families, and to future Americans who face possible pandemics,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn isn’t the first to raise concerns about conflict of interest issues.
Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), stated that Daszak “has a clear-cut conflict of interest” and that he shouldn’t be on the WHO team, according to a statement issued on Feb. 10.
AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Terri Ford called for a “truly independent body” to look into the origins of the CCP virus, saying that both the WHO and China “have a vested interest in an outcome to the investigation that casts them in a favorable light,” according to the statement.
“It is profoundly sad and disappointing that this investigation has turned into a media performance shaped by the Chinese authorities toward political ends—namely to escape any blame and embarrassment related to the COVID-19 outbreak while still offering a veneer of cooperation and transparency,” Ford said.
At one point during the investigation in Wuhan, WHO experts visited an exhibition filled with content that praised the CCP’s leadership in controlling the spread of the virus.
On Feb. 11, Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) took to Twitter to criticize the WHO investigation.
“What did this ‘investigation’ produce? Chinese propaganda,” he wrote. “Why is the WHO still carrying water for Beijing?!”
The WHO hasn’t released its final report on its findings in Wuhan. On Feb. 12, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “all hypotheses remain open and require further study” with regard to the origin of the virus.