The latest shots in the debate over the possible origins of Covid-19 were fired yesterday by Republican members of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees demanding that Dr. Anthony Fauci present himself for a transcribed interview.
Appendices to a letter to Secretary Xavier Becerra signed by James Comer and Jim Jordan show that leading British and US scientists believed it was likely that Covid-19 may have been accidentally leaked from a laboratory – but they sought to shut down that debate to protect “international harmony” and “science in China”.
The appendices show redacted emails to and from Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins who was Director of the National Institutes of Health prior to his term coming to an end in December.
In a February 2, 2020 email from Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, to Fauci and Collins, he said he thought it a “a likely explanation” that the coronavirus had evolved in a low-security lab, which might have “accidentally created a virus primed for rapid transmission between humans”.
Dr Collins responded saying that further debate could damage “international harmony” and “do unnecessary harm to science in general and science in China in particular”.
Now the Republicans want to the Department of Health and Human Services to state whether the White House was advised of warnings that the virus may have been the consequence of not only a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology but that it may have been “intentionally genetically manipulated.”
The letter cites previously published documents which revealed that Fauci was aware of the “monetary relationship” between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of which he is Director, the NIH and Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The letter states that by January 27, 2020 Fauci “knew that NIAID worked with EcoHealth to craft a grant policy to side-step the gain-of-function moratorium at the time.” This had allowed Daszak’s company to “complete dangerous experiments on novel bat coronaviruses” at Wuhan. They also claim that Fauci was aware by this time that EcoHealth was “not in compliance with the terms of its grant that funded the WIV.”
The Committee on Oversight had also discovered that EcoHealth had failed to file an annual report by September 30, 2019, “presumably to hide a gain-of-function experiment conducted on infectious and potentially lethal novel bat coronaviruses.”
The emails themselves, which can be read at the link above, provide details on the manner in which it is claimed Fauci and Collins not only came to be aware of concerns among senior American health officials with regard to the origin of the virus, but that they appear from the emails to have attempted to suppress public knowledge of and discussion of any possibility of a lab leak or genetically manipulated origin.
For example, there is reference to a conference held on February 1, 2020 at which Fauci and Collins were told of the possibility of human agency, but that it is unclear whether they shared this information with other government officials. Which is what the signatories of the letter are demanding to know.
There is reference to a February 4, 2020 conference which led to the authoring of a paper entitled ‘The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2’ which was subsequently published in Nature Medicine and which was sent prior to that to Collins and Fauci.
The letter implies that the text was changed to soften any reference to a lab leak which was clearly something that was being considered at that time, and poses the question as to whether any new evidence had emerged that might have led to the text being changed, and whether either or both Collins and Fauci had edited the text.
The Nature Medicine piece was published on March 17, 2020. It concluded that there was “strong evidence” that the virus was not the product of “purposeful manipulation.” However, there is no direct reference to any theory of how the virus may have actually come to be found among humans.
In any event, on April 16, 2020 Collins emailed Fauci to express his dismay that the piece which had been published had not gone far enough in rejecting the lab leak theory. Fauci referred to this on the following day at a White House briefing on the crisis, using it to bolster his rejection of any possibility of a lab leak.
Collins’ email wonders “if there is something NIH can do to help put down this very destructive conspiracy,” which appears an odd way to refer to a theory that was and indeed still is seriously under consideration as the means by which Covid-19 entered the human population. Fauci responded by referring to it as “a shiny object that will go away in times.”
Well, it has not gone away. There are still many questions to be answered with regard to what happened at Wuhan and t is right that the questions raised in the letter are answered in the manner requested. A good synopsis on why the debate on the Wuhan Institute, a possible lab leak and the involvement of possible gain-of-function experiments is not closed can be found here, and in other pieces Gript has published.
It is again worth stressing, that while the clear object of many in the United States and elsewhere in the democratic west has been to squash the laboratory leak theory as dangerous to relations with the Chinese Communist Party, that the Chinese themselves are assiduously promoting the claim that it was the Americans themselves who created and leaked the virus.
Even they are not standing over the natural origin theory as some article of faith which it appears to be for political and other reasons among those who fear to offend them in the rest of the world.