Americans haven't had a whole lot of reasons to trust Dr. Anthony Fauci after two years of COVID whiplash -- and they have even less reason now. Thanks to pages of emails just released by the Washington Post and BuzzFeed News, the country is getting a whole new look at the early days of the pandemic. And for the people in charge of the messaging, the cover-up is far from flattering.
It was February 2020 -- a few weeks before the coronavirus would begin changing lives forever. While Americans were just starting to get a glimpse of COVID, scientists from around the world were trying to get to the bottom of the virus's origins. On calls and by email, they exchanged theories about what could have happened. Some of those conversations are now public, and they paint a far different picture of the virus's origins than the one Fauci led Americans to believe.
On a conference call, arranged by the U.S. team of Fauci and NIH Director Francis Collins, a virologist, immunologist, and biologist all argued that -- based on their observations -- the chemical make-up of COVID-19 suggested that it was man-made. "I really can't think of a plausible natural scenario where you get from the bat virus or one very similar to it to nCoV where you insert exactly four amino acids 12 nucleotides that all have to be added at the exact same time to gain this function -- that and you don't change any other amino acid in S2? I just can't figure out how this gets accomplished in nature," researcher Michael Farzan argued.
At that point, the scientific community wasn't sure about anything -- least of all if the virus was a "natural occurrence." And yet, shortly after that call, Farzan's theories and others like it were suddenly dismissed, suppressed, or outright hidden, NRO reporter Caroline Downey explained. Calling it a lab leak would be catastrophic, Fauci and Collins decided and must be stopped. "An unsigned meeting note, which was presumably signed off on by Fauci and Collins, reads: 'I share your view that a swift convening of experts in a confidence inspiring framework (WHO seems really the only option) is needed, or the voices of conspiracy will quickly dominate, doing great potential harm to science and international harmony...'"
Despite all of the internal disagreement among experts, Fauci and Collins, "the pivotal players here, who were the spokespeople for America's scientific community at the time," Downey points out, "dismissed the lab-leak hypothesis as conspiracy -- and that's the narrative the American public received."
And the timeline is especially telling. Just a month after these conversations happened, Collins started referring to the lab-leak theory as "outrageous." And shortly after that, Fauci reiterated the point to National Geographic, insisting that COVID "could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated." It was a coordinated effort to draw attention away from what government funded scientists saw as a real possibility that this virus was specifically engineered and came from a lab. "They wanted to put this to bed."
Of course, as Americans know now, they had a special interest in doing so. The U.S. government happened to be a financial partner in the Wuhan gain of function research. And the idea that this virus originated -- not in a wet market or in nature -- but in a lab -- "could suggest that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins wanted to maintain that scientific relationship with China. And there's some culpability there that they probably didn't want to be exposed," Downey agreed.
"Time for answers," the House Oversight Committee Republicans tweeted when the damning emails were uncovered. We couldn't agree more.