Newly released emails reveal Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts deliberately colluded to conceal and dismiss the possibility that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory, despite their own initial belief that the virus was likely man-made. The emails provide additional details regarding a February 1, 2020 teleconference convened by Fauci in which he and other scientists discussed the likelihood that SARS-CoV-2 had leaked from a lab.
While some details of the teleconference were reported on earlier this year after a collection of Fauci emails were released under the Freedom-of-Information Act (FOIA), crucial elements of the conference had been redacted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
However, thanks to an independent journalist who recently obtained new unredacted versions of those emails, it is now apparent that Fauci’s group consciously plotted to stifle evidence that could lead to a lab leak hypothesis gaining traction in the public sphere.
According to the emails, Fauci and the other scientists expressed their belief that the virus that causes COVID-19 likely came from a Chinese lab.
Prior to the teleconference, scientists Kristian Andersen, Robert Garry, and Edward Holmes wrote to Fauci expressing their doubts on the natural origin theory.
“Some of the features (potentially) look engineered” claimed Andersen. “I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature” wrote Garry. Holmes, who later was found to have been working for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated that if he had to put odds on the two possible origins, he would favor the lab origin by 60:40. Andersen was apparently even more convinced, putting the odds for a lab leak over a natural origin at either sixty or seventy percent.
The new emails highlight the unusual relationship between Fauci and Jeremy Farrar, a British medical researcher who chairs a non-profit called the Wellcome Trust, which funds major biomedical research initiatives. Farrar was chosen by Fauci to co-organize the February teleconference, even though Farrar was a U.K. citizen with no known involvement with the NIAID, NIH, or any other U.S. government agency.
One email from Fauci addressed to Jeremy Farrar on February 1, with Andersen and two other NIH representatives cc’d, suggested the scientists should disclose their findings of unusual features of the virus to western intelligence agencies.
“I just got off the phone with Kristian Anderson and he related to me his concern about the Furine site mutation in the spike protein of the currently circulating 2019-nCoV” wrote Fauci. “If everyone agrees with this concern, they should report it to the appropriate authorities. I would imagine that in the U.S.A., this would be the FBI and in the U.K., it would be MI5.”
In Farrar’s book Spike: The Virus vs. The People, Farrar admits that initially he thought the COVID virus looked “like an engineered virus” and that a colleague of his, who happened to be the former head of MI5, advised him to get a burner phone when he was corresponding with other scientists about the lab leak theory during Farrar’s February email exchanges with Fauci.
On February 4, just days after the teleconference, Farrar emailed a draft of the infamous Proximal Origin paper to Anthony Fauci and NIH director Francis Collins, noting that “accidental lab passage in animals” remained a “very real possibility.” The paper, which was co-authored by Anderesen, Garry, and Holmes, served as a public declaration in support of the natural origin and was later touted by Fauci and the mainstream media as the scientific basis for dismissing the lab leak hypothesis.
After reading the initial draft, Fauci responded to Farrar and Collins, “?? Serial passage in ACE2-transgenic mice” apparently expressing concern that the paper seemed to be pointing towards a possible lab origin.
Farrar agreed saying, “Exactly!” Collins expressed his concerns in a more pointed response: “Surely that wouldn’t be done in a BSL-2 lab,” indicating his shock at the possibility of such dangerous research being performed in a low safety-level biolab (biosafety level 2 or BSL-2). Farrar responded by referring to the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the “Wild West….”
Published documents show that work done on live coronaviruses in Wuhan by Shi Zhengli and EcoHealth Alliance, whom Fauci had been funding through the NIAID, had, in fact, been performed in BSL-2 facilities. Such labs offer the same level of protection as a dentist’s office. In general, BSL-2 labs only offer minimal protections, such as requiring researchers to wear lab coats and gloves.
Another aspect of the virus that led Fauci’s group to believe that it was formed in a lab has to do with its spike protein, which contains a unique furin cleavage site (FCS) that allows SARS-CoV-2 to bind more easily to human cells.
According to the emails, scientists expressed their confusion as to how the FCS arose in the virus, given that FCS’s do not commonly exist in the spike protein of bat coronaviruses. One power-point slide, shared with those on the Fauci conference call, entitled “Gain of furin cleavage site in nCoV, – not present in bat coronaviruses, SARS, or MERS,” was circulated during the Feb 1 teleconference (see page 131 of emails).
Fauci and the others knew that there were unique characteristics of the virus that indicated it was likely created in a lab, they knew that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been conducting experiments that were consistent with creating those characteristics, and they knew that the Wuhan lab had not been following the appropriate safety standards for those research experiments.
But despite identifying these concerns, all the scientists present in Fauci’s Feb teleconference completely reversed their initial conclusions which favored a lab leak as the most likely origin for COVID-19.
On February 4, the same day Fauci had received the Proximal Origins draft, Kristian Andersen described the claim that COVID-19 may have come out of a lab as a “crackpot theory,” mocking the very idea he espoused only days earlier and had described as plausible in his own paper on COVID origins.
So, what changed? Did Andersen receive some groundbreaking new evidence that convinced him to suddenly abandon his earlier assessment that a lab origin was seventy percent likely?
According to the newly released emails, there was no such revelation. However, there was an underlying sense that the purpose of their meetings was not to report on their findings objectively and transparently, but rather to steer public opinion away from the possibility of the lab leak.
In the emails, participants explicitly revealed that the aim of the teleconference was to disprove the theory that COVID came from a lab.
On February 8, Andersen wrote to the group saying, “Our main work over the last couple of weeks has been focused on tying to disprove any type of lab theory.”
Christian Drosten, a German virologist who advises the government in Germany on COVID-19, wrote to Fauci’s group a day later complaining about the original draft saying, “didn’t we congregate to challenge a certain theory, and if we could drop it?” Drosten continued by sarcastically asking “Are we working on debunking our own conspiracy theory?”
Dorsten’s message on February 9 was followed by an email from Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans, who encouraged the group not to publish anything regarding the lab leak hypothesis because it “could backfire” and “because putting that in the public domain as a hypothesis in my view will be read as ‘see, they also thought so.’”
Apparently, the authors of the Proximal Origin draft (including Andersen) were convinced that these comments had merit, because one month later, when the paper was published in Nature Magazine, the final product was completely different than the original draft.
Instead of highlighting the evidence that was originally put forward, Fauci and his entourage set out to conceal their original findings by removing any indications from the yet-to-be-published Proximal Origins paper. In the initial draft of the paper that had been shared with Fauci on February 4, 2020, the authors took a neutral stance on potential origins, pronouncing that the available evidence could point to either natural or lab origin and that it was “currently impossible to prove or disprove either.”
The original draft also repeatedly referenced the FCS and acknowledged that it was possible the unique characteristic could have arisen from work done in a laboratory.
In the final version, however, the references to FCS in connection to a potential lab leak were removed and the neutral stance taken on possible origins, which characterized the original paper, was discarded and replaced with a far more declarative position: “We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.”
The latest release of unredacted emails offer the strongest evidence to date that in early February of 2020, Fauci and a select group of scientists conspired to cover up evidence that COVID-19 came from a Chinese lab. The decision to rewrite the Proximal Origins paper in a way that denounced the lab leak hypothesis was made despite the fact that Fauci and the authors themselves were not just aware of evidence pointing towards a lab leak but convinced of it.