A new set of emails published this week after a lengthy legal fight over disclosure requests made under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provide new insights into the actions of Anthony Fauci and other officials in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fauci will be retiring shortly from his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He has consistently denied any wrongdoing or funding of dangerous “gain-of-function” viral research in Wuhan, China, and has generally dismissed any concerns that the pandemic could have resulted from an accidental lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Reporter Jimmy Tobias announced on Tuesday that he was releasing a new group of 2020 emails he eventually obtained through the FOIA process that show Fauci was in fact urgently concerned about the possibility of a WIV lab leak at the onset of the pandemic.
The emails focus on a teleconference that took place on February 1, 2020, involving Fauci and virologists about the concerns they had at that time over the spread of COVID-19. Wellcome Trust scientist Jeremy Farrar, researcher Kristian Andersen, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins were all part of the conference and the emails.
In one email, Farrar wrote to Fauci and Collins warning that the research standards at the WIV and in China generally amounted to the “wild west.”
Fauci suggested it might be necessary to alert the FBI and British intelligence regarding Andersen’s findings and warnings. Andersen in part found evidence that the COVID-19 virus showed indications it had been produced through gain-of-function research.
Andersen also expressed concerns about the level of security at WIV, given the danger of the type of research the lab was conducting. One of the things WIV was doing is called “serial passage,” which involves infecting a single host with a specific virus repeatedly in order to induce mutations of the infectious virus.
Since early 2020, several experts who have posited the lab leak theory have said that “serial passage” is the type of gain-of-function research that would result in some of the genetic markers found in COVID-19.
In an email sent on February 5, 2020, Andersen stated outright that he believed the COVID-19 mutation was probably the result of serial passage research.
In later months, Andersen took a completely different public position, referring to the lab leak theory as a dangerous “conspiracy theory.”
Experts and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly alleged that the WIV was engaged in gain-of-function research using funding provided by NIAID at the expense of American taxpayers.
The leading Senate critic of Fauci and NIAID, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), will still be in the minority in the upper chamber for the next two years. However, the GOP will regain control of the House in January after this month’s midterm elections and may press further into the true origins of the pandemic using their subpoena powers.