In a little reported development, the families of four Americans who died from COVID-19 are suing EcoHealth Alliance, an organization known to have funded risky coronavirus experiments in China. Accusing the New York-based research body of “creating” and “releasing” the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the global outbreak, the lawsuit alleges that both the organization and its president were “well aware” of the risk of causing a pandemic but failed to ensure proper safety measures. Seeking unspecified damages for their losses, the families say that EcoHealth “intentionally engaged in a scheme to conceal the true laboratory origins” of the virus.
Filed in the New York Supreme Court on 2 August 2023, in addition to making four claims for wrongful death the lawsuit also lodges a personal injury claim on behalf of a fifth individual. The named defendants in the case are EcoHealth Alliance and Peter Daszak, the organization’s British-born president. Defendants to be added at a later date could potentially include governments, government officials, military personnel, scientists, elected officials, and others.
Demanding a jury trial, the lawsuit alleges that EcoHealth and Daszak researched, funded, and created the virus responsible for COVID-19 and then, “either intentionally or accidentally,” released it. Moreover, the suit further argues that the defendants were aware “at all relevant times” that coronaviruses are “capable of causing a worldwide pandemic” and that the dangerous nature of the activities they engaged in “far outweighs any potential benefits.”
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, the location where the COVID-19 outbreak is believed to have originated, is cited 18 times in the lawsuit. In relation to this, EcoHealth and Daszak stand accused of “disregarding multiple substantial warnings about safety breaches and lax biosecurity standards” at the institute’s laboratories, where coronavirus research they funded was carried out. Significantly, therefore, the lawsuit notes that U.S. diplomats had concluded the Wuhan facility was “staffed with an inadequate number of personnel, with inadequate training to ensure that the coronaviruses did not escape.”
The deaths and injuries described in the lawsuit are alleged to be the “direct and proximate result” of the defendants’ conduct. Such conduct is said to include “creating, generating, modifying and testing coronaviruses for the purpose of making them more virulent, transmissible and lethal for human beings.” Based on these and other activities, the defendants are accused of demonstrating “wanton and reckless disregard” for the safety and wellbeing of the plaintiffs. The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants are engaging in “continuing acts and omissions to cover up the origins” of the pandemic.
Following hot on the heels of the first German lawsuit brought against BioNTech over COVID-19 vaccine side effects, the filing of the case against EcoHealth and Daszak opens up a new front in the fight to determine responsibility for the pandemic and the crimes resulting from it. With additional cases now filed in countries including the UK, Australia, and Canada, among others, one outcome already seems certain in that further lawsuits will inevitably follow.