Fauci defends himself over email revealing he was warned Covid was ‘engineered’

‘The only trouble is they are really ripe to be taken out of context’

Louise Hall
Thursday 03 June 2021 20:53
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Fauci defends himself over emails on Covid origin

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Doctor Anthony Fauci has responded to revelations over released emails during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in which he was warned that the disease may have been “engineered”.

The top infectious disease expert insisted that the correspondence could easily be “taken out of context” in an interview with NewsNation.

“The only trouble is they are really ripe to be taken out of context where someone can snip out a sentence in an email without showing the other emails and say, ‘based on an email from Dr. Fauci, he said such-and-such,’ where you don’t really have the full context,” Dr Fauci said.

Thousands of the doctor's emails were released this week through FOI requests by The Washington Post and Buzzfeed, giving insight into the handling of the pandemic at its onset.

Amid the emails, one expert speculated to Dr Fauci in January 2020 that the “unusual features” of the novel virus could possibly indicate that it had been “engineered”.

Kristian Andersen, the Scripps Research Institute researcher who sent the email, has since said on Twitter that the correspondence is a “clear example of the scientific process” and maintained that his research regarding the issue debunked the lab-leak theory.

“As I have said many times, we seriously considered a lab leak a possibility. However, significant new data, extensive analyses and many discussions led to the conclusions in our paper,” he said on Twitter.

Dr Fauci also doubled down on his insistence that the email had been misconstrued in an appearance on CNN on Thursday adding that he still believes “the most likely origin is from an animal species to a human”.

“But I keep an absolutely open mind that if there may be other origins of that, there may be another reason, it could have been a lab leak,” he said.

The doctor continued: “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.”

Dr Fauci noted that he keeps an “open mind all the time” adding: “And that's the reason why I have been public that we should continue to look for the origin.”

The theory that the pandemic originated with a leak from a Chinese research laboratory in Wuhan has once again been gaining speculation in recent weeks. Beijing has vehemently denied the accusation.

Last week, President Joe Biden ordered intelligence officials to intensify their efforts to determine the origin of the disease, including the possibility it began as part of a lab accident.

The scientific community is heavily divided over the controversial theory, with certain experts saying it is “entirely plausible” while others argue such theories “vary from not credible at all to barely credible”.

In the interview with NewsNation, Dr Fauci also responded to criticism of funding sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2002.

“The Wuhan lab is a very large lab, to the tune of hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars — the grant that we’re talking about was $600,000 (£423,000) over five years,” the doctor said.

He noted that he “can’t guarantee everything that’s going on in the Wuhan lab” but said it was “our obligation as scientists and public health individuals to study the animal-human interface”.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained that the world had “lucked out” that it “didn’t get hurt too badly with the original SARS in 2002 and 2003.”

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