Fauci called Wuhan lab leak theory ‘shiny object’ in April 2020 email

0
16
Fauci called Wuhan lab leak theory 'shiny object' in April 2020 email

Dr. Anthony Fauci pooh-poohed the theory that COVID-19 may have emerged from a Chinese lab shortly after the onset of the pandemic in the US, calling it a “shiny object that will go away,” according to an email made public Tuesday by House Republicans.

Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, revealed the contents of the April 2020 email in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra demanding he make the chief White House medical adviser available to testify.

On April 16, 2020, then-National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins sent Fauci a link to a report by Fox News host Bret Baier which stated that “multiple sources” who had been briefed on the origins of COVID-19 believed it emerged from the Wuhan lab. 

“Wondering if there is something NIH can do to help put down this very destructive conspiracy, with what seems to be growing momentum,” wrote Collins. “I hoped the Nature Medicine article on the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 would settle this. But probably didn’t get much visibility. Anything more we can do? Ask the National Academy [of Sciences] to weigh in?

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Fauci’s April 2020 email was made public by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

“I would not do anything about this right now. It is a shiny object that will go away in times [sic],” Fauci responded to Collins early on the morning of April 17.

Two months earlier, on Feb. 1, 2020, Comer and Jordan claim, Fauci and Collins took part in a conference call with at least 11 other scientists in which they were warned that COVID-19 may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but “it is unclear if either Dr. Fauci or Dr. Collins ever passed these warnings along to other government officials or if they simply ignored them.”

One participant in the call, Tulane University virologist Robert F. Garry, wrote in a follow-up email that “I really can’t think of a plausible natural scenario” for the emergence of the virus.

However, Garry later signed his name to a paper called “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2,” a draft of which was sent to Collins and Fauci before it was to be published in Nature Medicine. This was the paper to which Collins referred in his April 16 email to Fauci and it stated: “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

House Oversight and Reform Committee  Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.)
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) said Fauci’s emails “raise significant questions.”
Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

“After speaking with Drs. Fauci and Collins, the authors abandoned their belief COVID-19 was the result of a laboratory leak. It is also unclear if Drs. Fauci or Collins edited the paper prior to publication,” the Republicans’ letter says.

That suggestion triggered a tense exchange between Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Fauci during a Senate Health Committee hearing Tuesday. 

“Did you communicate with the five scientists who wrote the opinion piece in Nature, where they were describing, ‘Oh, there’s no way this could have come from a lab?’” asked Paul.

“That was not me,” responded an agitated Fauci. “You keep distorting the truth. It is stunning how you do that.”

“Were most of the scientists that came to you privately, did they come to you privately and say, ‘No way this came from a lab,’?” Paul later pressed. “Or … was their initial impression actually that it looked very suspicious for a virus that came from a lab?”

“Senator, we are here at a committee to look at a virus now that has killed almost 900,000 people,” Fauci deflected. “And the purpose of the committee was to try and get things out how we can help to get the American public. And you keep coming back to personal attacks on me that have absolutely no relevance to reality.”

The two GOPers also claimed that Fauci was aware in January 2020 that NIAID worked with the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance to design a policy that would sidestep a gain-of-function moratorium and allow it to complete dangerous experiments on novel bat coronaviruses.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
The Republicans worry that Fauci could have edited a paper that discredited the lab leak theory.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Comer and Jordan further contend that Fauci also knew in January 2020 that EcoHealth was not in compliance with the terms of its grant that funded the Chinese lab.

EcoHealth also failed to submit a report to NIAID by Sept. 30, 2019, and the House committee learned that it had not done so “presumably to hide a gain-of-function experiment conducted on infectious and potentially lethal novel bat coronaviruses,” the letter said. 

Jordan and Comer said the emails “raise significant questions.”

“Did Drs. Fauci or Collins warn anyone at the White House about the potential COVID-19 originated in a lab and could be intentionally genetically manipulated?” they ask. “If these concerns were not shared, why was the decision to keep them quiet made?”

Source link