With the COVID-19 pandemic nearing an end in America, the public health experts and medical professionals who have dominated U.S. airwaves and print for the last 18 months should, in theory, be fading out with it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top medical adviser to President Joe Biden and perhaps now America’s most famous physician, isn’t leaving the spotlight just yet. In addition to warning America about continually emerging variants and other COVID-19 risks, Fauci is on the defensive after emails were leaked revealing he downplayed the lab-leak theory of the novel coronavirus origin.
The head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has done the media rounds in recent weeks to accuse his opponents of “distortion” and taking his emails out of context. He’s insisted in media appearances that he kept an “open mind” throughout the pandemic to the lab-leak theory as a possibility. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans Launch COVID-19 Origins Inquiry — Asking To Grill Fauci)
“Even if you lean that this is more likely a natural occurrence, we always felt that you got to keep an open mind, all of us. We didn’t get up and start announcing it, but we said, ‘keep an open mind,’ and continue to look. So I think it is a bit of distortion to say that we deliberately suppressed that,” he recently told CBS This Morning.
While not entirely dismissive, Fauci certainly downplayed on the national stage the likelihood of a lab leak from the early months of the pandemic. “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats, and what’s out there now is very, very strongly leaning toward this [virus] could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” he said in May 2020.
He said arguments that the virus had developed naturally, been brought to a lab, and accidentally leaked from there amounted to “circular” logic: “That’s why I don’t get what they’re talking about [and] why I don’t spend a lot of time going in on this circular argument.”
Around the same time, Fauci strongly suggested to reporters at the White House that many scientists believed that a “jump of species from [a bat] to a human” was “totally consistent” with the sequences they looked into.
He said, “a group of highly qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences … in bats as they evolve. And the mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.”
The study Fauci was referencing was a paper published in Nature Medicine, which concluded: “We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.”
More recently, Fauci pushed back on former CDC Director Robert Redfield’s claim that he believed a lab leak was the origin of COVID-19. “Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion as to a possibility, but again, there are other alternatives – others, that most people hold by,” Fauci said in March.
Fauci may have not outwardly denied the possibility of a lab leak, but he certainly diminished it. His early remarks on the comments were to the point where Peter Daszak, now most known for aiding and abetting the Chinese government in kneecapping the WHO’s COVID-19 origins probe, thanked him for dispelling the theory in a now-public email.
“I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Daszak emailed to Fauci in April 2020.
Fauci responded to Daszak’s email to thank him for his “kind note.”
Fauci still says he finds a natural origin to be more likely, but he’s gone out of his way not to diminish the lab leak in recent interviews. He has yet to seriously explain why he’s made this shift in tone, or really acknowledge that he’s even made it. (RELATED: ‘You Have To Be Asleep Not To See That’: Fauci Claims Attacks On Him Are Really ‘Attacks On Science’)
Typically Fauci says his changes in position are due to new and evolving evidence. For instance, after changing his stance on mask-wearing from early in the pandemic, he said he did so because the evidence and knowledge of the virus changed. “It was not a change because I felt like flip-flopping. It was a change because the evidence changed, the data changed,” he recently told The New York Times.
Though, the evidence hasn’t particularly changed. Proponents of the theory argue that most of the information they cite was available to Fauci, and everyone else, back in early 2020.
Thee is no–absolutely no–scientific evidence that “points” in either direction.
The totality of the evidence cited by those asserting “evidence..points to nature” is the banal, jejune observation that natural spillover has occurred in the past and thus may have occurred again.
— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) June 4, 2021
“All evidence available today was available twelve months ago, and most evidence available today was available fifteen months ago,” Rutgers University molecular biologist Dr. Richard Ebright told the Daily Caller in May. (RELATED: How Fact-Checkers ‘Deceived The Public’ About Possible Virus Outbreak From Wuhan Lab)
“All that has changed is that the small group that seized control of the narrative in February 2020 and deceived the public and policy-makers for fifteen months now has lost control of the narrative,” Ebright continued.
Ebright has been persistent in insisting that the evidence hasn’t changed, and the public record backs him up. It was known early on that the epicenter of the pandemic was Wuhan, just miles away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It was also known that Dr. Shi Zhengli was an expert in working on bat-based coronaviruses at that facility, and that dangerous gain-of-function research had been performed there.
Most of the evidence, albeit circumstantial, was evident. Ebright also contends, counter to Fauci, that there’s no evidence to suggest that the virus naturally transferred from animals to humans other than that such an occurrence has happened with past pandemics.
NEW: Dr. Fauci tells me that his opinion about the origins of COVID-19 have not changed: He believes that it is “highly likely” that it first occurred naturally before spreading from animal to human. Since no one is 100% sure, he’s open to a thorough investigation.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) May 24, 2021
Fauci has repeatedly claimed that past precedent is a major factor that he believes natural spillover is the likely source of COVID-19. “I believe if you look historically, what happens in the animal-human interface, that, in fact, the more likelihood is that you’re dealing with a jump of species,” he told CNN.
But Fauci’s emails prove he was aware of the evidence of a lab leak, and apparently didn’t take it seriously in the public. Infectious disease expert Kristian Anderson explained to Fauci in January 2020 that the virus looked potentially “engineered.” (RELATED: The Top Six Revelations From Anthony Fauci’s Emails)
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Fauci briefed world leaders on a possible lab leak more than one year ago.
If the evidence hasn’t changed, why has Fauci’s tone?