‘Give me a break’: Fauci defends email with NIH Health Director who said Wuhan lab leak ‘conspiracy theory was gaining momentum’, doubles down on COVID origins insisting it came from an animal and DEFENDS China saying the U.S. should not be ‘accusatory’
- Dr. Anthony Fauci made his comments in an interview with NewsNation Now anchor Leland Vittert on The Donlon Report
- He double downed during a Thursday morning CNN interview
- But he admitted he ‘can’t guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab’
- Fauci said Trump supporters ‘resent’ him because they don’t understand science
- Emails show he was warned at the start COVID was possibly ‘engineered’ in a lab
- He took the theory seriously behind closed doors but downplayed it in public
- NIH Director Dr Francis Collins appeared to dismiss the theory that COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab as a ‘conspiracy’ in an email to Fauci
- The subject line of Collins’ email to Fauci, which was sent on April 16 last year, was titled ‘conspiracy gains momentum’
- It included a link to a Mediaite news article referencing comments made a day earlier about the Wuhan lab leak theory by Fox News anchor Bret Baier
- The contents of Collins’ email was redacted. Fauci replied on April 17 at 2.45am but his response was also blacked out
Dr. Anthony Fauci doubled down on claims that the coronavirus likely originated from an animal then was transmitted to humans in a Thursday morning interview on CNN, despite increasing speculation that it leaked from a China lab.
Fauci, who served under former President Trump and President Joe Biden, continues to fight the idea that he downplayed theories that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology after a trove of emails exchange at the beginning of the pandemic revealed he was warned about a potential lab leak.
‘I have always said and will say today to you … that I still believe the most likely origin is from an animal species to a human,’ Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday on CNN.
‘But I keep an absolutely open mind that if there may be other origins of that, there may be another reason. It could have been a lab leak.’
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Fauci was interview Thursday morning on CNN
A team of researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the EcoHealth Alliance have trapped bats in caves all over China, like this one in Guangdong, to sample them for coronaviruses
Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei province, on February 23, 2017
In a separate Thursday morning interview on MSNBC, Fauci said they want to definitively find the cause of the coronavirus pandemic – whatever that origin is – but pointing the finger at China isn’t going to help.
‘It’s in China’s interest to find out exactly what it is,’ Fauci said. ‘Obviously, you want openness and cooperation. One of the ways to get it is not to be accusatory. Try to get a forensic, scientific and investigational approach. I think the accusatory part about it is only going to make (China) pull back more.’
Fauci was asked during the MSNBC interview if he thought it was in China’s best interest to hide information if the origin was a lab leak or if it was designing a weapon.
He sidestepped, saying no matter what he says, ‘it will be taken completely out of context,’ which he said has already happened after more than 3,200 of his emails from January to June 2020 were obtained and published by Buzzfeed on Tuesday.
The emails showed leading virus experts warned him COVID-19 may have been created in a lab while he publicly played such claims down.
Many emails were redacted, and Fauci was asked during the Thursday morning interview on CNN if he remembers what was said.
‘They only took about 10,000 emails from me. Of course, I remember. I remember all 10,000 of them,’ he said sarcastically. ‘Give me a break.’
In an interview with NewsNation Now anchor Leland Vittert on The Donlon Report, Fauci said the emails ‘are really ripe to be taken out of context where someone can snip out a sentence in an email without showing the other emails, and say ‘based on an email from Dr. Fauci, he said such and such’ where you don’t really have the full context.’
Fauci also explained on NewsNation why scientists focused their theories on the natural transmission from bats to humans through an intermediary species.
Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed recent revelations that he was warned by scientist at start of pandemic that COVID-19 may have been ‘engineered’
The under-fire chief medical advisor to the president has dismissed revelations that he was warned at the start of pandemic that COVID-19 may have been ‘engineered’, and claimed Trump supporters ‘resent’ him because they do not ‘understand’ science.
He has now acknowledged he ‘can’t guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab’ amid increasing speculation it did not occur naturally.
Fauci, who has been a frequent target of Trump and his supporters for dismissing the theory, claims he was never ‘anti-Trump’.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Deadline on Wednesday evening, Fauci said: ‘There is no doubt that there are people out there who, for one reason or another, resent me for what I did in the last administration, which was not anything that was anti-Trump at all.
‘It was just trying to get the right information, to try and get the right data. What they didn’t seem to understand, I guess that it is understandable that they didn’t understand it, is that science is a dynamic process.
‘So something that you know in January, you make a recommendation or a comment about it, but as you get more and more information, the information leads you to change because that is what science is, it is a self-correcting process.
‘That is what I was trying to do, always tell the truth on the basis of what the data is. It was never deliberately something against the president.’
Fauci made his comments in an interview with NewsNation Now anchor Leland Vittert on The Donlon Report where he also admitted he ‘can’t guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab’
Fauci, who is considered America’s top expert on infectious disease, also explained why scientists focused their theories on the natural transmission from bats rather than an accidental leak from the Wuhan lab
Researchers at a number of top universities have recently penned a letter claiming that theories that COVID-19 escaped from a Wuhan lab ‘remain viable’
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is about 20 miles from the Huanan Seafood Market where the first coronavirus cases are reported to have occurred
Another trove of emails, published by the Washington Post, also revealed his cozy relationship with China’s top infectious disease expert Dr. George Gao – the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – during the early days of the pandemic in March and April of last year.
‘Let’s put things in context … We’re not talking about the Chinese Communist Party. We’re not talking about the Chinese military. We’re talking about scientists that we’ve had relationships for years,’ Fauci said to Vittert.
Fauci then defended his relationship with Gao, a colleague of Fauci’s ‘for many years’ and a member of the United States National Academy of Scientists.
‘The scientists there, and others that we dealt with the original SARS, with the influenza virtually every year, the scientists are experienced,’ Fauci said.
He also defended a grant the United States provided the Wuhan lab, which has raised concerns that American money may have helped pay for the alleged creation of virus at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
‘The Wuhan lab is a very large lab to the tune of hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. The grant that we’re talking about was $600,000 over five years for an average of about $125,000 to $140,000 a year,’ Fauci said.
He added: ‘I can’t guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab, I can’t do that. But it is our obligation as scientists and public health individuals to study the animal-human interface’ in the aftermath of the original SARS virus in 2002.
Fauci explained that SARS-CoV-1 ‘was clearly a jumping of species from a bat, to a civet cat, to a human.’
‘So it was incumbent upon us to study the animal-human interface and to understand what potential these viruses have of infecting humans which then might damage the United States,’ Fauci said.
‘So you don’t want to go to Hoboken, New Jersey or to Fairfax, Virginia to be studying the bat human interface that might lead to an outbreak. You go to China.’
How Fauci flip-flopped on the origins of COVID
April 2020: Fauci repeatedly made public statements suggesting that that COVID was the result of an ‘unusual human-animal interface’ in a Chinese ‘wet market’ and that ‘the mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.’
May 2020: Still adamant that he didn’t believe the coronavirus was man-made. ‘If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,’ he told National Geographic in an exclusive interview published May 4, 2020. ‘Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.’
Late May 2021 to early June 2021: During an event called ‘United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking,’ Fauci was asked if was ‘still confident’ that the virus evolved naturally.
‘No, actually … I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,’ Fauci said. ‘Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out.’
He added: ‘So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.’
During the interview, Fauci also defended the government’s early messages telling Americans not wear masks before nationwide mask mandates were later ordered.
In one email, Fauci had said: ‘The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.’
Responding to questions about that email, Fauci said: ‘Let me explain, and it is a complicated issue. At the time we were saying it wasn’t necessary to wear masks there were three things that were going on.’
‘One of them was, there was a consideration that there was a shortage of personal protective equipment, particularly among people who actually needed the mask – those who were taking care of patients in the hospital.
‘So we didn’t want to have people running to the stores and getting N95 and other masks. So I should have probably been more explicit, you’re right, and said that there are a number of aspects to it – including the poor fitting.’
In March 2020, Gao had told Science magazine that it was a ‘big mistake’ for U.S. experts including Fauci to tell their citizens that they did not need to wear face masks.
A subsequent email shows that Gao was anxious as to how Fauci would interpret the remark.
He messaged Fauci on March 28 saying: ‘I saw the Science interview… That was journalist’s wording. Hope you understand. Lets work together to get the virus out of the earth.’
Fauci warmly replied: ‘I understand completely. No problem. We will get through this together.’
On April 3, Fauci formally reversed his stance on mask-wearing, telling Americans that they should cover their noses and mouths to stop the spread. The top doctor was slammed by numerous pundits and millions of Americans for giving mixed messages.
He later said he did so to try and prevent members of the public panic-buying masks when hospitals were struggling to obtain adequate supplies of PPE.
Less than a week later, Gao emailed Fauci again expressing his support amid the onslaught of attacks.
‘I saw some news (hope it is fake) that you are being attacked by some people. Hope you are well under such a irrational situation,’ Gao wrote on April 8.
‘Thank you for your kind note. All is well despite some crazy people in this world,’ Fauci replied three days later.
Fauci also admitted during the interview that he doesn’t believe COVID-19 will ever be fully eradicated.
‘I don’t believe we will ever fully eradicate SARS-COV-2, I hope we will be able to eliminate it or greatly control it in this country,’ he said.
Fauci was warned that the coronavirus was possibly ‘engineered’ in a lab before the pandemic started and seemed to be taking it seriously behind closed doors while downplaying the idea in public.
In a Jan. 31, 2020 email – more than two months before the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic – Fauci forwarded a copy of Science magazine article titled ‘Mining coronavirus genomes for clues to the outbreak’s origins’ to two people.
U.S. virus researcher Kristian Andersen and Sir Jeremy Farrar, who runs a global health charity in Britain, were on the receiving end of the email.
‘This just came out today. You may have seen it. If not, it is of interest to the current discussion,’ wrote Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Andersen, who runs a viral genomics lab at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, wrote back, ‘The problem is that our phylogenetic analyses aren’t able to answer whether the sequences are unusual at individual residues, except if they are completely off.
‘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.’
Andersen also noted that he and others ‘all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory’ but added that ‘there are still further analyses to be done, so those opinions could still change.’
On March 30 and April 1, Andersen sent dozens of tweets in a thread after the World Health Organization released its report about the origin of the coronavirus.
In the thread, he included a tweet saying, ‘First of all, I have very carefully considered the possibility of a lab leak, dating back to January, 2020. A committee under the White House OSTP/NASEM was set up in response to these enquiries and I remain a member of that committee today.’
On Wednesday, after Fauci’s emails went viral, Andersen tweeted a reply to Australian reporter Sharri Markson downplaying the idea of a cover up.
‘I know it’s super mundane, but it isn’t actually a ‘massive cover-up,’ Sharri. It’s just science. Boring, I know, but it’s quite a helpful thing to have in times of uncertainty,’ Andersen tweeted.
Two days later – February 2, 2020 – Farar sent an email to Fauci and other US health officials sent a ZeroHedge article wit the headline ‘Coronavirus Contains ‘HIV Insertions,’ Stocking Fears Over Artificially Created Bioweapon.’
The emails show Fauci received ‘a flurry of correspondence about the theory that coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan,’ Buzzfeed reported, including one email sent to Fauci on April 16, 2020 by Francis Collins.
Collins, the director of the National Institute of Health, wrote ‘conspiracy gains momentum’ in the subject line and included a link to a Mediaite news article referencing comments made a day earlier about the Wuhan lab leak theory by Fox News anchor Bret Baier. The contents of Collins’ email was redacted.
Fauci replied on April 17 at 2.45am but his response also was blacked out. Fauci requested a ‘quick call’ with Collins in one of his earlier replies.
US virus researcher Kristian Andersen responded to a January 2020 Fauci email about COVID
NIH Director Dr Francis Collins (left) appeared to dismiss the theory that COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab as a ‘conspiracy’ in an email to Dr Anthony Fauci (right) on April 16 last year
The other email recipients included NIH Deputy Director Dr. Lawrence Tabak, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Deputy Director Clifford Lane and NIH spokesman John Burklow.
The story linked in Collins’ original email was based on an April 15 broadcast on Fox News during which Baier told fellow anchor Sean Hannity that ‘multiple sources’ believed COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab before accidentally escaping.
‘This is from multiple sources who have been briefed at the beginning part of the origins of China and the beginning of the virus. They’ve also seen documents, open source and classified,’ Baier said.
‘We’ve asked to see those documents directly, but they are saying that it is increasingly likely, that there is increasing confidence that the virus – COVID-19 – started in a Wuhan lab.
‘They’re saying it occurred naturally because China was trying to show that they could be as good or better than the US in handling viruses, discovering viruses, and that this was a botched effort to contain this and it got out to the population.
‘They are 100 percent confident that China altered the data, the statistics, they did a lot of things to contain the information. Meanwhile, they cut down, as you mentioned, travel from Wuhan internally, but left the international flights going, and there obviously is how you have a spread like this.’
Evidence has been mounting of late that supports the theory that the pandemic began as an accidental leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The subject line of Collins’ email to Fauci and several others at the National Institutes of Health was titled ‘conspiracy gains momentum’. It included a link to a Mediaite news article referencing comments made a day earlier about the Wuhan lab leak theory by Fox News anchor Bret Baier (above)
New evidence, including word of three workers at the Wuhan lab who fell seriously ill with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019, has forced a sober reassessment among doubters
Biden last week ordered a 90-day intelligence review to investigate the possibility and several high-profile public health experts have come out in recent months saying they believe that’s how COVID-19 started.
Former CDC director Robert Redfield told CNN in March that he believes the virus ‘escaped’ from a Wuhan lab and started spreading as early as September 2019.
Fauci later dismissed Redfield’s belief when asked about them at a White House COVID-19 briefing – noting that if the virus had been circulating for months it would make the assertion that it came from a lab less likely.
‘So when you think about the possibilities of how this virus appeared in the human population, obviously there are a number of theories,’ Fauci said in the briefing.
‘The issue that would have someone think it’s possible to have escaped from a lab would mean that it essentially entered the outside human population already well adapted to humans, suggesting that it was adapted in the lab.’
However, Fauci said that most public health officials believe that the virus was actually circulating in China for a month or more before they were clinically recognized at the end of December 2019.
‘If that were the case, the virus clearly could have adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time up to and at the time it was recognized,’ Fauci said.
‘So, Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion as to a possibility. But, again, there are other alternatives — others that most people hold by.’
Even Collins has appeared to change his tune as recently as last month while speaking to senators when he told them the Wuhan lab leak theory couldn’t be completely ruled out.
‘It is most likely that this is a virus that arose naturally, but we cannot exclude the possibility of some kind of a lab accident,’ he said.
David Arnold Relman, left, and Jesse D. Bloom, right, recently organized a letter for the Science journal which said that the Wuhan lab escape theory can’t be ruled out yet
There is continued discussion over whether COVID is a naturally-occurring virus or a more sinister genetically-modified virus that was meant to be confined to the Wuhan institute that leaked by accident.
Claims that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been laughed off as conspiracy theories – but researchers at a number of top universities like Harvard and Cambridge have suggest in a letter that the ‘hypotheses’ cannot be ruled out until there is more evidence.
New evidence, including reports of three workers at the Wuhan lab who fell seriously ill with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019, has forced a sober reassessment among doubters.
Facebook also has been forced to reverse its policy censoring posts speculating that the virus was engineered in a lab, amid serious questions about the ‘gain of function’ experiments being done on coronavirus strains at the Wuhan lab.
China continues to furiously deny that the virus behind COVID-19 escaped from its lab in the original epicenter, accusing the United States of taking a ‘dangerous stance’ in calling for a full investigation into the possibility.
‘He told me it wasn’t gain of function, but admitted it in these emails’: Rand Paul says Fauci lied to him over US-funded research that was being carried out in Wuhan lab and demands he is fired
Republican Sen. Rand Paul demanded Dr. Anthony Fauci be fired and claimed that he lied to him about gain-of-function research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that was allegedly funded by the United States.
Paul appeared on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle where he claimed that thousands of emails revealed by Buzzfeed News and the Washington Post proved Fauci may have been in-part responsible for the development of COVID-19.
At a Senate hearing last month, Paul accused the National Institutes of Health of funding Chinese research into bat coronaviruses that infect humans
But Fauci told Paul: ‘You are entirely and completely incorrect. The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute.’
On Wednesday, the junior senator from Kentucky said that Fauci bears ‘moral culpability’ while asserting that COVID-19 was created by the Wuhan Institute of Virology through funding from the NIH, a theory which has not been proven.
The junior senator from Kentucky said Fauci bears ‘moral culpability’ for the pandemic and should be fired from his government roles
Scientists have primarily focused their beliefs about COVID-19 on the theory that it spread naturally from a bat to an intermediary animal before infecting humans.
Claims that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been laughed off as conspiracy theories – but even researchers at a number of top universities like Harvard and Cambridge have suggested in a letter that the ‘hypotheses’ cannot be ruled out until there is more evidence.
In gain-of-function research, scientists alter organisms and diseases to study how they could become deadlier or more transmissible. The field of virology widely relies on such studies.
Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases under the umbrella of the NIH, has denied that the NIH directly funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan.
However, Paul asserted to Fox News host Laura Ingraham that the recently reveals emails show Fauci admitted to funding gain-of-function research.
‘I think we’ve had a sea change of opinion. Everybody left-of-center was saying this was a conspiracy, no way it could have happened in the Wuhan lab. Now even Dr. Fauci is saying we should investigate it,’ Paul said.
‘But the emails paint a disturbing picture, a disturbing picture of Dr. Fauci form the very beginning worrying that he had been funding gain of function research. And he knows it to this day but hasn’t admitted it.’
Paul claimed in the interview that ‘there is a lot of evidence’ that Fauci’s views on the Wuhan lab-leak theory were compromised by a ‘conflict of interest.’
‘If it turns out this virus came from the Wuhan lab, which it looks like it did, that there’s a great deal of culpability in that he was a big supporter of the funding,’ Paul said.
‘But he was also a big supporter to this day of saying that we can trust the Chinese on this, that we can trust Chinese scientists and I think that’s quite naïve and really should preclude him form the position that he’s in.’
The NIH awarded a $3.7 million grant to EcoHealth Alliance, which is based in the United States, to study the risk of coronaviruses emerging from bats in 2014. EcoHealth Alliance in turn distributed nearly $600,000 of that funding to its collaborator, the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Paul claimed during the Fox News interview that Fauci’s emails show he was worried the NIH funded gain-of-function research as early as last February during the emergence of the pandemic.
‘In his email, in the subject line, he says ‘gain of function research.’ He was admitting it to his private underlings seven to eight months ago,’ Paul said.
In a February 1, 2020 email obtained by Buzzfeed News, Principal NIAID Director Hugh Auschincloss wrote to Fauci to discuss a paper the top infectious disease expert had sent him appearing to question if NIH grants funded gain of function research relating to coronaviruses.
In the email to Fauci, Auschincloss noted that a colleague would ‘try to determine if we have any distant ties to this work abroad.’
When Ingraham asked Paul if Fauci could face criminal culpability, he replied: ‘At the very least, there is moral culpability.’
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