Fauci silenced discussion COVID-19 origins from a lab after approving ‘risky’ research, study shows

An extensive Vanity Fair investigation has revealed that Dr. Anthony Fauci silenced any discussion about the suspected origins of COVID-19 being from a lab after helping EcoHealth Alliance head Dr. Peter Daszak obtain millions of dollars to study bats.

After analyzing more than 100,000 leaked internal EcoHealth Alliance documents, and interviewing  five former staff members and 33 other sources, Vanity Fair reported, “While the documents do not tell us where COVID-19 came from, they shed light on the world in which EcoHealth Alliance has operated: one of murky grant agreements, flimsy oversight, and the pursuit of government funds for scientific advancement, in part by pitching research of steeply escalating risk.”

The magazine claimed that Fauci’s approval of EcoHealth Alliance research helped Daszak’s organization develop the COVID-19 virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory in China, and suggested that Daszak and other researchers associated with the lab tried to hide evidence about the pandemic’s early spread as people began to question whether the virus escaped from the WIV instead of emerging from a wet market in Wuhan, as other scientists were suggesting.

Daszak thanked Fauci in a 2020 email, obtained by BuzzFeed News via a FOIA request, for downplaying these concerns.

“I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Daszak reportedly wrote to Fauci.

This was after Fauci rejected the idea that COVID-19 was leaked from a lab at a White House press briefing when asked about the possibility that the virus came out of a laboratory in China.

“There was a study recently that we can make available to you, where a group of highly qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences there and the sequences 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 a species from an animal to a human,” Fauci replied.

Vanity Fair pointed to questions being raised at the time, such as, “Why had Daszak been so cagey about the work his organization had been funding there? And were Fauci and other officials trying to direct attention away from research that the U.S. had been, at least indirectly, financing?”

More from the magazine:

The dispute over COVID-19’s origins has become increasingly acrimonious, with warring camps of scientists trading personal insults on Twitter feeds. Natural-origin proponents argue that the virus, like so many before it, emerged from the well-known phenomenon of natural spillover, jumping from a bat host to an intermediate species before going on to infect humans. Those suspecting a lab-related incident point to an array of possible scenarios, from inadvertent exposure of a scientist during field research to the accidental release of a natural or manipulated strain during laboratory work. The lack of concrete evidence supporting either theory has only increased the rancor.”

 

Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases issued a $3.7 million grant to EcoHealth Alliance in 2014, and Daszak’s group would issue $600,000 in sub-awards to the Wuhan lab.

The exposé also said that Fauci “ultimately supported” gain-of-function research, arguing in a co-authored op-ed in The Washington Post that “important information and insights can come from generating a potentially dangerous virus in the laboratory.”

Citing an unpublished scientific paper by  evolutionary biologist Jesse D. Bloom, Vanity Fair said the paper “was the product of detective work he’d undertaken after noticing that a number of early SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences mentioned in a published paper from China had somehow vanished without a trace.”

“The sequences, which map the nucleotides that give a virus its unique genetic identity, are key to tracking when the virus emerged and how it might have evolved,” the magazine explained. “In Bloom’s view, their disappearance raised the possibility that the Chinese government might be trying to hide evidence about the pandemic’s early spread. Piecing together clues, Bloom established that the NIH itself had deleted the sequences from its own archive at the request of researchers in Wuhan. Now, he was hoping Fauci and his boss, NIH director Francis Collins, could help him identify other deleted sequences that might shed light on the mystery.”

A “contentious” Zoom meeting organized by Collins was described, with evolutionary biologist Kristian Andersen, whom Collins invited to the meeting, calling Bloom’s paper “deeply troubling.”

“If the Chinese scientists wanted to delete their sequences from the database, which NIH policy entitled them to do, it was unethical for Bloom to analyze them further,” Vanity Fair recounted Andersen contending, adding, “Fauci then weighed in, objecting to the preprint’s description of Chinese scientists ‘surreptitiously” deleting the sequences. The word was loaded, said Fauci, and the reason they’d asked for the deletions was unknown.”

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