Dr. Anthony Fauci commissioned a February 2020 paper to disprove the possibility that COVID originated in a lab — only to pretend he was not involved in the study at a White House news conference weeks later.
Newly-released emails uncovered by House Republicans probing the COVID-19 pandemic show the former head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases both commissioned and had final approval on a scientific paper which claimed it was ‘improbable’ that the virus leaked out of a lab in Wuhan, China.
Just a few weeks later, he stood next to then-President Donald Trump at a press conference and cited that very paper as evidence that the idea of a lab leak was implausible.
Many media outlets then started to dismiss the idea, only to later suggest the lab leak theory is possible as new evidence arose supporting the claim.
Newly-released emails show that Dr. Anthony Fauci (pictured in 2022) commissioned the report he cited to disprove the lab leak theory
In an email to the publisher of Nature Medicine, Dr. Kristian Andersen writes that Fauci ‘promptd’ the paper
A letter from Scripps Research on Andersen’s behalf later denied that he was influenced by Fauci, but in a previously released email he said: ‘Our main work over the last couple of weeks has been focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory’
The bombshell emails released by House Republicans on Sunday shows that Fauci commissioned and edited a paper entitled The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2 before he cited it as evidence that COVID did not originate from a lab in Wuhan.
It was written just four days after Fauci, and his NIH boss Francis Collins, held a call with the authors to discuss reports that COVID may have been leaked from a genetic testing lab in Wuhan and ‘may have been intentionally genetically manipulated.’
And in the emails, Dr. Kristian Andersen admits that Fauci ‘prompted’ him to write the paper with the goal of ‘disproving’ the lab leak theory.
He submitted the peer-reviewed paper to Nature Medicine on February 12, 2020 with a cover email reading, ‘There has been a lot of speculation, fear-mongering and conspiracies put forward in this space.
‘[This paper was] Prompted by Jeremy [Farrar], Tony Fauci and Francis Collins.’
A letter sent by Scripps Research on his behalf later insisted that Andersen objectively researched he origins of COVID and claimed that Fauci did not influence his work.
Dr. Kristian Andersen (pictured) admits that Fauci ‘prompted’ him to write the paper with the goal of ‘disproving’ the lab leak theory
But the report by House Republicans says, ‘According to previously-released emails, this assertion is demonstrably false.’
It points to a February 8, 2020 mail in which the doctor stated: ‘Our main work over the last couple of weeks has been focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory.’
Others also apparently worked to ensure the paper strongly dismissed the idea of a lab leak.
Farrar — who was then the head of the British nonprofit the Wellcome Trust, which has historic ties to the pharmaceutical industry, and is now the Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization — tried to push through an edit replacing the word ‘unlikely’ to ‘improbable’ in a statement about the possibility of a lab leak origin.
Under the changes, a sentence in the report read: ‘It is improbable that SARS CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of an existing SARS-related coronavirus.’
Fauci spoke from the White House podium as he cited the paper he commissioned as evidence that COVID did not originate in a lab
Still, even with the edits, Collins emailed Fauci ‘expressing dismay that Proximal Origin — which they saw prior to publication and were given the opportunity to edit — did not squash the lab leak hypothesis and asks if the NIH could do more to “put down” the lab leak hypothesis,’ the House Republicans write in a report.
‘The next day … Dr. Fauci cited Proximal Origin from the White House podium when asked if COVID-19 leaked from a lab.’
He said at the time: ‘There was a study recently where a group of highly-qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequence… in bats as they evolve and the mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of species from an animal to a human.’ he said.
‘So the paper will be available,’ Fauci continued. ‘I don’t have the authors right now, but we can make it available to you.’
Virologist Shi Zheng-li – nicknamed the ‘Bat Lady’ – is pictured in the lab. She hunted down dozens of deadly Covid-like viruses in bat caves and studied them at the WIV
The question of whether the global outbreak began with a spillover from wildlife sold at the market or leaked out of the Wuhan lab just eight miles across the Yangtze River has given rise to fierce debate about how to prevent the next pandemic. New studies point to a natural spillover at the Huanan wildlife market. Positive swab samples of floors, cages and counters also track the virus back to stalls in the southwestern corner of the market where animals with the potential to harbor Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time
The report comes just months after a bombshell Senate report found that the COVID pandemic was most likely the result of a lab leak.
GOP members of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions reviewed hundreds of studies into the origins of COVID and interviewed ‘several dozen’ experts over the past 15 months.
Writing in the report, they conclude: ‘Based on the analysis of the publicly available information, it appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident.
‘Nearly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, critical evidence that would prove that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and resulting COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a natural zoonotic spillover is missing.’
The interim report in October concluded that China ‘s unwillingness to cooperate or open up the lab in question meant it ‘no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt’.
They said ‘the lack of transparency and collaboration’ from China ‘prevents reaching a more definitive conclusion’, the senate committee adds.
‘The hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy.’
More recently a report from the US Office of Inspector General found that the NIH did not properly review whether the tests in Wuhan involved dangerous pathogens with pandemic potential.
The federal audit looked at three taxpayer-funded research grants awarded to the now-notorious EcoHealth Alliance, run by British scientist Peter Daszak, between 2014 and 2021.
It found the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and EcoHealth failed to ‘understand the nature of the research conducted, identify potential problem areas, and take corrective action’.
‘With improved oversight, NIH may have been able to take more timely corrective actions to mitigate the inherent risks associated with this type of research,’ the report added.
Pictured: The Wuhan Institute of Virology, where crucial data was wiped by Chinese scientists
Government auditors said three awards given by EcoHealth involved viruses with pandemic potential.
The May 27, 2014, award of $3.7million to the Wuhan virology lab has been at the center of the lab-leak theory.
Titled ‘Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence’, some have speculated this research created the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID.
The report said oversight was crucial for grants given to foreign entities that may become uncooperative with investigators – like the WIV has in recent years.
‘Although WIV cooperated with EcoHealth’s monitoring for several years, WIV’s lack of cooperation following the COVID-19 outbreak limited EcoHealth’s ability to monitor its subrecipient,’ the audit added.
Chinese officials were found to have wiped crucial databases from the lab and stifled independent investigations into the facility when questions started to be asked about its involvement.
Researchers who fell ill with a mysterious flu-like virus months before the official COVID timeline were silenced or disappeared.
One of its chief scientists was nicknamed the ‘Bat Lady’ for her extensive work on coronaviruses like COVID.
The research facility is less than 10 miles from an animal slaughter market where the first series of human cases were clustered. Some experts also claim COVID unique spike protein, which it uses to infect people, shows hallmarks of engineering.
But others have deemed those scenarios unlikely and say that there is some indirect evidence that COVID did jump from animals at the Huanan Seafood Market, where animals known to harbor COVID including raccoon dogs, hedgehogs, rats and squirrels, were kept in squalid conditions.
Direct evidence for a natural or man-made origin has yet to emerge.
DID COVID LEAK FROM A WUHAN LAB? THE EVIDENCE FOR AND AGAINST
Evidence for Wuhan lab-leak theory
An article in the respected Science journal on May 14 2021 kick-started the surge in interest for the lab-leak theory.
Some 18 experts wrote in the journal that ‘we must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data’.
Later that month, a study by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr Birger Sørensen claimed it had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year.
The study included accusations of ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ at Chinese labs.
It followed statements from the WHO Director General, US and EU that greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve.
Previously, the theory had been dismissed as conspiracy by most experts, partly because of its association with President Donald Trump.
President Joe Biden in May 2021 ordered a full investigation into the origin of the pandemic virus and demanded scientists work out whether there is truth to the theory.
In December 2021, Harvard scientist Dr Alina Chan told the UK’s Science and Technology Select Committee that it is ‘reasonable’ to believe that Covid was genetically engineered in China.
She also said that the Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up of the initial outbreak in Wuhan two years ago and attempts to sabotage the World Health Organisation’s inquiry into the origins of the pandemic made the lab-leak theory likely.
The head of the World Health Organization insisted just a day earlier that the theory that Covid emerged from a Wuhan lab has not been ruled out — as he said China should help solve the mystery out of ‘respect’ for the dead.
The body’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, suggested that Beijing had not cooperated fully as he urged more ‘transparency’ in the continuing investigation.
And a senior Government source claimed in June 2022 that the WHO boss privately believes the pandemic kicked off following a leak from a Chinese lab.
In September 2022, leading medical journal the Lancet admitted the virus may have been leaked from a lab, including those in the US.
Evidence against the theory
Most of the scientific community say the virus is most likely of natural origin.
A series of papers point to the virus evolving in animals before being transmitted to humans, in the same way as all other previously discovered coronaviruses.
The first study, published in Scientific Reports, showed some 47,000 wild animals from 38 species were sold across four markets in Wuhan between May 2017 and November 2019.
The authors, including Dr Chris Newman, an evolutionary ecologist at Oxford University, claimed the evidence showed the conditions for animal-to-human transmission were in place in Wuhan.
But they acknowledged there was no proof Sars-CoV-2 was present or originated in any of these animals.
A joint World Health Organization-China investigation also concluded it was ‘very likely’ the virus jumped from bats to humans via an as-yet-unknown intermediary animal.
And a June 2022 report by the WHO sets out that Covid most likely originated in bats before infecting humans.
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