Josh Hawley Confronts Scientist For Engaging In ‘Propaganda Effort’ To Cast Doubt On COVID-19 Lab Leak Theory

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Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley on Tuesday confronted Tulane University virologist Robert Garry for allegedly propagandizing by downplaying the possibility COVID-19 leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

Garry contributed to a pivotal paper published in Nature Medicine in March 2020 concluding that no lab-based origin for COVID-19 was plausible. Hawley, during a Senate hearing examining the “origins of COVID-19,” confronted and criticized Garry for his role in casting doubt on the lab leak theory, accusing him of causing significant harm through this alleged “propaganda.” (RELATED: Video Shows Wuhan-Linked Researcher Peter Daszak Describing ‘Killer’ Viruses Altered By ‘Colleagues In China’)

“You said at the time that definitively SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct, is not a laboratory construct. Course our own government, key agencies have concluded otherwise. And on the basis of this, Dr. Fauci and others cited this piece and went out to use it to mobilize our own government to censor people who ask questions … People lost their jobs because of this. They lost their jobs, they lost their standing , they were kicked off Facebook, they were kicked off Twitter. Do you regret being part of this effort, this propaganda effort?” Hawley asked.


“I was simply just writing a paper about our scientific opinions about where this virus came from,” Garry said.

News outlets widely cited the Nature article at the beginning of the pandemic to suppress discussion of the lab leak theory.

“Oh no, you weren’t,” Hawley said. “You said in an email that we now have that you tried to withhold, but that we have, February 2nd, 2020, you wrote, ‘I really can’t think of a plausible, natural scenario where you can get from the bat virus, or one very similar to it, to this … I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature. It’s stunning. Of course, in the lab, it would be easy.'”

Garry wrote in emails about the overlap between SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13, which was the closest known relative to the virus at the time and was discovered in 2013 in a cave in Yunnan Province. “I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature,” he wrote. 

Of course, in the lab it would be easy to generate” the missing protein sequence that separates SARS-CoV-2 from RaTG13, he also wrote. 

“Dr. Garry, you have disgracefully participated in shameful propaganda that has been one of the worst chapters in this country’s history with the government propagandizing its own people. And you know what, you may be right … I’m not a scientist, I don’t know, but what I do know is … It is wrong to censor and lie to the American public,” Hawley concluded. “You should have done better, sir … and because you didn’t, people have suffered.” (RELATED: ‘So Friggin Likely’: Anti-Lab Leak Scientists’ Private Messages Conflict With Their Congressional Testimony)

The 2020 paper Garry participated in has faced mounting demands for retraction following messages revealing primary researchers felt compelled to write it despite their belief in the likelihood of the lab leak theory. One of the authors, Dr. Kristian Andersen, stated they were “focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory.”

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