GOP leadership on a House committee said Sunday it uncovered new email evidence suggesting Dr. Anthony Fauci “prompted” the drafting of “proximal origin” publication meant to “disprove” the COVID-19 lab leak theory.
In a new memo released Sunday, Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Majority Staff alerted the rest of the committee members to “New Evidence Resulting from the Select Subcommittee’s Investigation into the Origins of COVID-19 – ‘The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2’”
“New evidence released by the Select Subcommittee today suggests that Dr. Fauci ‘prompted’ the drafting of a publication that would ‘disprove’ the lab leak theory, the authors of this paper skewed available evidence to achieve that goal, and Dr. Jeremy Farrar went uncredited despite significant involvement,” the memo says.
On Feb. 1, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Francis Collins, and at least eleven other scientists convened a conference call to discuss COVID-19. On the call, Fauci and Collins were first warned that COVID-19 may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China, and, further, may have been intentionally genetically manipulated, the memo says.
Three days later, four participants of the conference call authored a paper entitled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” (Proximal Origin) and sent a draft to Fauci and Collins. Prior to final publication in Nature Medicine, the paper was sent to Fauci for editing and approval.
“On April 16, 2020, slightly more than two months after the original conference call, Dr. Collins emailed Dr. Fauci expressing dismay that Proximal Origin—which they saw prior to publication and were given the opportunity to edit—did not squash the lab leak hypothesis and asks if the NIH can do more to ‘put down’ the lab leak hypothesis,” the memo says. “The next day—after Dr. Collins explicitly asked for more public pressure—Dr. Fauci cited Proximal Origin from the White House podium when asked if COVID-19 leaked from a lab.”
The committee, chaired by Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, cited several emails GOP leadership says, “suggests that Dr. Anthony Fauci ‘prompted’ Dr. Kristian Andersen, Professor, Scripps Research (Scripps), to write Proximal Origin and that the goal was to ‘disprove’ any lab leak theory.”
“On August 18, 2021, Scripps responded to then-Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member, James Comer, and then-Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member, Jim Jordan’s, July 29, 2021, letter to Dr. Andersen,” the memo says. “In this letter, Scripps asserts that Dr. Andersen “objectively” investigated the origins, and that Dr. Anthony Fauci did not attempt to influence his work. Both statements do not appear to be supported by the available evidence.”
In an excerpt from a Feb. 12, 2020, email included in the memo, for example, Anderson writes that he, Fauci, Farrah as well as colleagues Eddie Holmes, Andrew Rambaut, Bob Garry and Ian Lipkin “have been working through much of the (primarily) genetic data to provide agnostic and scientifically informed hypothesis around the origins of the virus.”
In a July 14, 2021, interview with The New York Times, Andersen was asked about how his view changed from possible lab leak to definitely zoonotic. Anderson claimed that he and other researchers “looked at data from coronaviruses found in other species, such as bats and pangolins, which demonstrated that the features that first appeared unique to SARS-CoV-2 were in fact found in other, related viruses.”
But as the committee majority notes, while Proximal Origin was going through peer review with Nature Medicine more than a year earlier, Andersen “actually did not find the pangolin data compelling.”
“Privately, Dr. Andersen did not believe the pangolin data disproved a lab leak theory despite saying so publicly. It is still unclear what intervening event changed the minds of the authors of Proximal Origin in such a short period of time. Based on this new evidence, the pangolin data was not the compelling factor; to this day, the only known intervening event was the February 1 conference call with Dr. Fauci.”
In another email during the paper’s drafting process, Lipkin asserted, “It does not eliminate the possibility of inadvertent release following adaptation through selection in culture at the institute in Wuhan. Given the scale of the bat CoV research pursued there and the site of emergence of the first human cases we have a nightmare of circumstantial evidence to assess.”
In a Feb. 17, 2020, email, Lipkin thanked Farrar for “shepherding” the paper, noting “Rumors of bioweaponeering are now circulating in China.” Farrar agreed to push Nature to publish it.