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Last month, emails released via the Freedom of Information Act showed Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins shut down scientists who thought COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab, and now, House Republicans are demanding some answers.
“Instead of alerting national security experts to the potential threat that scientists were questioning the origin of the SARS2 virus, you shut down debate about the COVID-19 origin,” read a letter to Fauci and Collins from the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and other Republican committee members.
As the emails revealed, experts in virology told both Fauci and Collins that, given the makeup of the virus, a natural scenario for its development was “highly unlikely,” according to a report in the Washington Examiner.
“However, those same email communications, particularly when viewed in light of other publicly available information, demonstrate an apparent effort by you and Dr. Collins not only to coverup the concerns those virologists raised, but to suppress scientific debate about the origins of COVID-19,” the letter charges.
The bulk of the emails focused around a Feb. 1, 2020, conference call during which approximately 11 scientists discussed various theories about the origin of the virus. Many at the time seemed to believe a lab leak was the most plausible explanation.
Following the call, Welcome Trust director Dr. Jeremy Farrar emailed Fauci, Collins (who was, at the time, headed up the National Institutes of Health), and then-principal deputy director of the NIH, Lawrence Tabak, to say that, indeed, some of the scientist were leaning towards a lab-leak theory.
“So, I think it becomes a question of how do you put all 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 am 70:30 or 60:40,” Farrar recalled Mike Farzan, a professor of immunology at Scripps Research, saying during the call.
Erasmus MC Department of Viroscience’s Ron Foucher emailed a warning that entertaining a lab-leak theory could “do unnecessary harm to science in general and science in China in particular.”
After that, Collins began to change his tune, emailing that he was “coming around to the view that a natural origin is more likely,” adding, “a swift convening of experts in a confidence inspiring framework (World Health Organization seems really the only option) is needed, or the voices of conspiracy will quickly dominate, doing great potential harm to science and international harmony.”
“It appears you and Dr. Collins may have done so to protect China and avoid criticism about incredibly risky research that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was funding at the Wuhan lab,” Republicans stated in their letter to Fauci.
House Republicans have given Fauci until the end of February to respond to their questions.
The GOP members want to know “how the Fauci and Collins communications with virology experts beginning in January 2020 were initiated, the identities of any other individuals Fauci or Collins consulted with on COVID-19’s origins, and whether anyone at the Trump White House was briefed.”
Additionally, Rodgers and the Republican lawmakers have asked if Fauci and Collins were communicating in January 2020 with Chinese scientists about COVID-19 and “to what extent did preserving international harmony (especially with China) affect your advice to the White House, HHS, or anyone else involved in the COVID-19 response.”
And finally, the members want all documents related to the now infamous Eco-Health Alliance and their alleged collaboration with the Wuhan lab on dangerous gain-of-function research using NIH funding.
Both the NIH and Fauci have denied any such research exists.
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