News & Politics

Follow the Science? Fauci Wasn't. Here's More Evidence

Greg Nash/Pool via AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci spent over a year publicly dismissing the theory that COVID-19 originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but more than a year ago he briefed world leaders that the virus may have leaked from the lab.

“I was told at that time, back in the spring [of 2020], that Dr. Fauci had gone over to a meeting of world health leaders in Europe around the World Health Assembly, and actually briefed them on the information that they were looking at — that this could have been a potential lab leak, that this strain looked unusual,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS News’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday. “So those discussions were going on. And I was told that by a very senior official in the Trump administration. I’ve reconfirmed that conversation. That happened, you know, at the time contemporaneously with—with that meeting over a year ago. So I think early on when they looked at the strain, they had suspicions.”

Gottlieb said that further analysis “dispelled some of those suspicions,” but Fauci publicly refuted the man-made virus theory for a year even though he was told in the early days of the pandemic that COVID-19 had “unusual features” that “potentially look engineered.”

“On a phylogenetic tree the virus looks totally normal and the close clustering with bats suggest that bats serve as the reservoir. The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered,” NIH scientist Kristian Andersen told Fauci on February 1, 2020.

Some believe that Fauci publicly dismissed the lab-leak theory to protect his own connections to funding “gain-of-function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,

On February 1, 2020, Fauci sent an email to NIH Principal Deputy Director Hugh Auchincloss with the subject line “IMPORTANT” and an attachment labeled “Baric, Shi et al – Nature medicine – SARS Gain of function.pdf.” The undeniably urgent-sounding message informed Auchincloss that it was “essential” for them to speak soon. “Hugh: It is essential that we speak this AM. Keep your cell phone on. I have a conference call at 7:45 AM with [HHS Secretary Alex] Azar. It likely will be over at 8:45 AM. Read this paper as well as the e-mail that I will forward to you now. You will have tasks today that must be done. Thanks, Tony.”

Auchincloss replied and told him, “The paper you sent me says the experiments were performed before the gain of function pause but have since been reviewed and approved by NIH. Not sure what that means since Emily is sure that no Coronavirus work has gone through the P3 framework. Ste will try to determine if we have any distant ties to this work abroad.”

Despite this, Gottlieb said he didn’t think “there was anything that Tony sent that expressed any ill intent and nothing really that was new from the standpoint of what we already knew.”

“The science is one piece of information, but there’s a lot of other information that points in the direction that this could have come out of a lab, that we need to have a broader view about the potential risk that this was a lab leak,” Gottlieb added.

A national security assessment looks at that as one piece of evidence, but then looks at the behavior of the Chinese government, looks at the behavior of the lab, looks at other evidence around the lab, including the infections that we now know took place, and that changes the overall assessment. So the virologists who are now still focused on saying, we don’t think this was a lab source, they’re still I think looking at this through the lens of what does the sequence look like, what does the virus look like? That is just one piece of evidence. And I think this is partly why these kinds of assessments need to be in the hands of the national security apparatus, not just the scientific community.

Gottlieb’s statements make it clear that Fauci should not have strongly dismissed the lab-leak theory. While he clearly wants to give Fauci the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t have any “ill intent,” there is clearly enough reason to believe Fauci was trying to cover something up.