In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci reportedly sought to counter the theory that the virus originated in a Chinese lab.
Fox News reported that Dr. Kristian Andersen, a noted virologist at the Scripps Lab, emailed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Fauci on Jan. 31, 2020, saying that he believed COVID-19’s “features (potentially) look engineered.”
He added the “genome is inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.”
Fauci convened a conference call the following day with federal officials and about a dozen virologists from around the world, according to Fox News.
“It is essential that we speak this AM. Keep your cell phone on … Read this paper as well as the email that I will forward to you now,” he wrote.
According to notes from that conference call, Michael Farzan — chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research, said, “I think it becomes a question of how do you put all of this together, whether you believe in this series of coincidences, what you know of the lab in Wuhan, how much could be in nature — accidental release or natural event? I an 70:30 or 60:40.”
Dr. Robert Garry, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine, reportedly said on the call, “I really can’t think of a plausible natural scenario where you get from the bat virus or one very similar to it to nCoV where you insert exactly 4 amino acids 12 nucleotide that all have to be added at the exact same time to gain this function.”
“I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature … Of course, in the lab it would be easy to generate the perfect 12 base insert that you wanted,” he added.
However, Dr. Francis Collins, then-director of the National Institutes of Health, reportedly stated, “I am coming around to the view that a natural origin is more likely. But I share your view that a swift convening of experts in a confidence inspiring framework (WHO seems really the only option) is needed, or the voices of conspiracy will quickly dominate.”
Collins further contended “science and international harmony” could be greatly harmed and research into the virus hampered if China felt accused of wrongdoing.
Fox reported, “suspicions of the lab leak theory were suppressed over concerns of how the public would react to news of possible Chinese government involvement.”
Garry later recounted that a consensus emerged from the discussion that no paper about the origins of the virus should be written, but if any chose to, “don’t mention a lab origin as that will just add fuel to the conspiracists,” according to the outlet.
Just four days later, Fox noted, five virologists on the call wrote a preliminary paper concluding COVID-19 came from natural sources.
Drafts of the document were first sent to Fauci and Collins for their review before it was published online in February.
It later appeared in its final form on March 17, 2020, in Nature Medicine.
“Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus,” the virologists wrote in the article.
Among the authors were Andersen and Garry, despite their earlier statements reportedly indicating that COVID likely was manmade.
Garry told The Intercept earlier this month that his initial Jan. 31, 2020, email to Fauci suggesting the virus was manmade was taken out of context.
“This was one email among many I was sharing with my colleagues,” he wrote the news outlet.
“I changed my mind with new information/new data,” Garry added. “That’s how science works. No one was trying to mislead the public.”
When reporting in April 2020 identified the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China as a potential source of the virus, Collins reportedly emailed Fauci, “Wondering if there is something NIH can do to help put down this very destructive conspiracy.”
Fauci replied, “I would not do anything about this right now. It is a shiny object that will go away in [time].”
The health official then addressed the topic hours later at a White House news briefing on April 17, 2020, saying, “The mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.”
About a month later, Fox reported, Fauci’s agency awarded close to $9 million in government research grants to Andersen’s and Garry’s organizations.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio noted the order of events in a news briefing from Capitol Hill last week.
The ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee argued Andersen’s Jan. 31, 2020, email sent Fauci “into complete overdrive to cover this information up and not present it to the American people.”
Within 20 days, a preliminary version of the Nature Magazine article was published online.
“Why don’t Democrats want to know this? Why don’t they want to know how the virus started that is disrupted our lives for, now, almost a full two years? Why don’t they want to know? Why don’t they want to do the investigation?” – @Jim_Jordan pic.twitter.com/qWBcleX6GT
— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) January 19, 2022
Jordan called for Congress to bring Andersen and Garry in to testify concerning their changed views on the origins of COVID.
“Why don’t Democrats want to know this?” the congressman asked.
“Why don’t they want to know how the virus started that [has] disrupted our lives for, now, almost a full two years? Why don’t they want to know? Why don’t they want to do the investigation?”
He pledged if Republicans take control of the House in November, they will spend the time needed to “get to the bottom of it.”