AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
A series of developments in recent weeks has led to mounting criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as more details emerge about his knowledge and role in suppressing the COVID-19 lab leak theory.
The first blow for Fauci came in late February with a bombshell Wall Street Journal report detailing an Energy Department assessment that the coronavirus likely originated in a Chinese lab. The Energy Department’s analysis followed a report from the FBI which also concluded that “the virus likely spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory.”
Throughout 2020 and 2021, Fauci was one of the most outspoken critics of the lab leak theory, even as other prominent scientists raised the alarm that the COVID-19 virus indeed could have escaped from a lab.
In a series of since-released emails between Fauci and former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins in April 2020, Fauci dismissed the lab leak theory as a “shiny object.” He then made multiple TV appearances over the next several months where he unequivocally denied the plausibility that the virus could have escaped from a lab.
In an appearance on CNN following the Journal story, however, Fauci was suddenly engaged in a game of verbal gymnastics, telling host Jim Acosta, “A lab leak could be that someone was out in the wild, maybe looking for different types of viruses in bats, got infected, went into a lab and was being studied in the lab and then came out of the lab.”
“But if that’s the definition of a lab leak Jim, then that’s still a natural occurrence,” Fauci insisted.
Fauci has been forced to walk back or revise his previous assertions several times as the lab leak theory has gained more credibility, and has so far refused to offer an apology or admission that his earlier statements were very likely incorrect.
Things got worse for Fauci a week later as the new House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic released evidence that Fauci commissioned a paper in February 2020 to disprove the lab leak theory.
According to the New York Post, Fauci “commissioned — and had final approval on — a scientific paper written specifically to disprove the theory that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.”
Then, the Post report continues, “Eight weeks later, Fauci stood at a White House press conference alongside President Donald Trump and cited that paper as evidence that the lab leak theory was implausible while pretending it had nothing to do with him and he did not know the authors.”
A hearing by the House pandemic subcommittee raised more problems for Fauci, as other senior members of the Trump administration testified that they believed in early 2020 that, based on the evidence, the COVID-19 virus could have originated in a lab.
Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, one of the witnesses at the hearing, told the committee, “Based on my initial analysis of the data, I came to believe and I still believe today that it indicates that COVID-19 more likely was a result of an accidental lab leak than the result of a natural spillover event. This conclusion is based primarily on the biology of the virus itself.”
Redfield went on to specifically accuse Fauci of suppressing debate around the origins of the virus in the early months of the pandemic.
Fauci has also faced backlash from Twitter CEO Elon Musk. The eccentric billionaire teased in January that he would unveil “the Fauci Files” as part of his drawn-out release of internal Twitter communications showing collusion between “content moderators” at the platform, career bureaucrats at intelligence agencies, and Democrat operatives to silence and censor conservatives.
Last December, Musk famously tweeted “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” touching off a public war of words between the two. “What are they talking about?” a clearly frazzled Fauci asked an interviewer who brought up the criticism from Musk. “I wish I could figure out what the heck they’re talking about. I think they’re just going off the deep end.”
Musk has yet to release the promised “Fauci Files,” although his previous tardiness on a number of other promised revelations leaves reason to believe that more bombshells could be coming.
The House pandemic subcommittee has also pledged to continue its investigations into the lab leak theory, as well as potential ties between Fauci and the Wuhan lab from which the COVID-19 virus allegedly escaped. And public pressure for answers from both China and top U.S. and global public health authorities continues to intensify.
In short, it looks like, even in retirement, Dr. Fauci still has a lot of explaining to do.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.