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14 Feb, 2022 20:10

GOP lawmakers demand answers from Fauci

House Republicans want to know why the Covid-19 guru seemingly shut down any debate about whether the virus came from a Wuhan lab
GOP lawmakers demand answers from Fauci

US Republican lawmakers have sent a letter pressing chief White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci for answers about his alleged silencing of concerns that the Covid-19 virus originally came from a Chinese lab.

The letter, sent on Monday by three US House members, cited emails suggesting that Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, then director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), tried in early 2020 to quash speculation among scientists that the virus may have originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Instead of alerting national security officials to the pandemic’s potentially unnatural origin, Fauci and Collins sought to shut down the debate, the GOP lawmakers said.

The emails, which were obtained by media outlets under Freedom of Information Act requests, reportedly showed that some virology experts saw reason to believe that the virus was lab-created. Some of the messages made reference to a February 2020 conference call in which many scientists leaned toward the lab-leak theory. For instance, Tulane Medical School professor Robert Garry said he could see no “plausible natural scenario” for some aspects of Covid-19 otherwise.

“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 cover up the concerns those virologists raised, but to suppress scientific debate about the origins of Covid-19,” the letter said.

Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky) and Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia) signed the letter.

They demanded that Fauci provide details on how those conversations with scientists were initiated and who consulted him and Collins on Covid-19’s likely origins. The lawmakers also requested information on any communications by Fauci and Collins with Chinese scientists, as well as documents related to US funding of the research in Wuhan.

Even as scientists were speculating about Covid-19’s potentially manmade origins, Fauci told reporters in April 2020 that the sequencing of the virus was “totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.” Earlier that same day, Collins sent him a message of concern about the lab leak theory, asking how NIH might “put down this very destructive conspiracy.”

Republican lawmakers have accused Fauci of directing taxpayer funding to gain-of-function research that could potentially make organisms more transmissible or lethal. In Monday’s letter, the House members claimed the efforts to quell the lab-leak theory may have stemmed at least partly from fears of those grants being exposed. “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,” the legislators said.