Fauci says scientists said COVID was 'possibly engineered' in February
Dr. Fauci says scientists believed in a secret February 2020 call COVID-19 was ‘possibly an engineered virus’ – as Mark Meadows accuses the media of ‘ignoring the facts and siding with China’
- Dr. Anthony Fauci revealed a group of top scientists held a secret February 2020 emergency call about the origins of the virus
- He said the call was his idea after infectious disease expert Kristian Andersen raised concerns with him that ‘at first glance’ the virus looked ‘engineered’
- The group decided on the call that the situation around the virus’s origins ‘really needed to be looked into carefully,’ he said
- The call took place on February 1 – 2 days after the WHO declared a global health emergency over COVID-19 and the US raised its travel warning on China
- Fauci pointed to the call as proof he ‘always had an open mind even though I felt then, and still do, the most likely origin was in an animal host’
- Fauci has been accused of flip-flopping over the origins of the virus
- Trump’s ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows accused Fauci and the media of ‘ignoring the facts and siding with China’
Dr. Anthony Fauci has admitted that a group of top scientists held a secret February 2020 call where they said they thought COVID-19 ‘could possibly be an engineered virus.’
The nation’s top disease expert told USA Today this week that the group decided on the emergency call that the situation around the virus’s origins ‘really needed to be looked into carefully.’
Publicly, Fauci adopted a stance that COVID-19 jumped naturally from animals to humans in a Chinese wet market close to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
Fauci is now facing a backlash over his perceived flip-flopping about the origins of the virus as there is a growing belief that it was the result of a Wuhan lab leak.
Trump’s ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows waded into the criticism Friday, slamming Fauci and the media for ‘ignoring the facts and siding with China.’
‘What actually should have happened is journalists should have done their job. There was a Pulitzer Prize waiting for somebody to report on it and candidly what they did is there was so much animosity toward Donald Trump, the president and his administration they weren’t willing to look at the facts,’ he told Fox.
‘We had shared those with a number of reporters and you had Dr. Fauci and a number in the media that were willing to ignore it and actually side with China.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci has admitted that a group of top scientists held a secret February 2020 emergency call where they said they thought COVID-19 ‘could possibly be an engineered virus’
There is a growing theory that COVID-19 did not naturally jump from animals to humans but instead originated in the Wuhan lab during research into bat coronaviruses, before it was leaked – either accidentally or intentionally – into the world.
It’s a theory that was long dismissed as a conspiracy touted by Donald Trump but has grown in prominence with experts and the Biden administration now investigating it as a real possibility.
Fauci repeated his claims to USA Today Wednesday that he always had ‘an open mind’ about the virus’s origins but continues to believe it was most likely created naturally.
‘I always had an open mind even though I felt then, and still do, the most likely origin was in an animal host,’ he said.
Fauci pointed to the emergency call – which had never been revealed before now – as proof that he was open to the possibility the virus did not form naturally.
The call took place on February 1, just two days after the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency over COVID-19 and the US raised its travel warning on China to the highest level on January 30.
It was also when the nation recorded the first known case of person-to-person spread of the virus on US soil.
Fauci told USA Today the call had been his idea after Kristian Andersen, an infectious disease expert at Scripps Research Translational Institute in California, raised concerns with him that ‘at first glance’ the virus looked unusual.
On January 31, Anderson spoke to Fauci both by phone and email expressing his beliefs the virus may have been manufactured by humans, he said.
In an email, released in the trove last month, he told Fauci he and several other top scientists believed the virus’s ‘unusual features’ meant it looked ‘engineered.’
There is a growing theory that COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan lab (workers inside the lab in 2017) during research into bat coronaviruses
‘The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered,’ the email read.
Anderson said the genome was ‘inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.’
He added that ‘those opinions could still change’ after closer analyses.
Fauci told USA Today Anderson had also expressed these concerns in a phone call with him and Jeremy Farrar, director the Wellcome Trust, that same day.
Fauci said he suggested to Anderson that ‘we bring together a multidisciplinary team.’
‘We agreed to convene by phone the next day.’
On the call were Fauci, Anderson, Farrar and NIH Director Francis Collins and several other international virology and disease experts.
Fauci told USA Today the conference call was ‘a very productive back-and-forth conversation where some on the call felt it could possibly be an engineered virus.’
Others, meanwhile, believed the evidence was ‘heavily weighted’ toward natural transmission of the virus.
Trump’s ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows waded into the criticism of Fauci Friday, slamming him and the media for ‘ignoring the facts and siding with China’
‘I remember it very well. We decided on the call the situation really needed to be looked into carefully,’ said Fauci of the call.
Publicly, however, Fauci supported the theory that COVID-19 was engineered naturally.
‘If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,’ he told National Geographic in May.
This May, Fauci then changed tact saying he was ‘not convinced’ any longer that the virus evolved naturally.
But, Fauci was not the only expert whose public stance appears to have stood in opposition to the one behind closed doors.
Following the February 1 call the plan was for Anderson – who just 24 hours earlier spoke of the virus’s ‘unusual’ genome that led him to believe it was ‘engineered’ – to spend the next two or three weeks looking into the virus sequences, Fauci said.
Yet, by February 4 – just three days after the emergency call – Anderson appeared to have had a change of heart, regaling in an email to other scientists that they should be ‘more firm on the question of engineering’ and slamming theories it had been deliberately engineered as ‘crackpot.’
Andersen sent an email to scientists who were writing a letter for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to send to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
‘I do wonder if we need to be more firm on the question of engineering,’ he wrote, according to USA Today.
‘The main crackpot theories going around at the moment relate to this virus being somehow engineered with intent and that is demonstrably not the case.
Fauci adopted a stance that COVID-19 jumped naturally from animals to humans in a Chinese wet market close to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China (above). He is now facing a growing backlash over his perceived flip-flopping about the origins of the virus
Fauci with Jill Biden in New York last week. Dr. Anthony Fauci revealed a group of top scientists held a secret February 2020 emergency call about the origins of the virus and decided the virus’s origins ‘really needed to be looked into carefully’
‘Engineering can mean many things and could be done for either basic research or nefarious reasons, but the data conclusively show that neither was done.’
He continued: ‘If one of the main purposes of this document is to counter those fringe theories, I think it’s very important that we do so strongly and in plain language (‘consistent with’ [natural evolution] is a favorite of mine when talking to scientists, but not when talking to the public – especially conspiracy theorists).’
Similarly, in March, Anderson was part of a team who concluded in the Nature Medicine Journal that ‘we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.’
The lab leak theory has gained traction after it emerged that three workers at the Wuhan lab fell seriously ill with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019, months before China first reported the virus.
Fauci told a House Appropriations subcommittee in late May that the US gave the lab around $600,000 over a period of five years in grants for research in bat coronaviruses.
Emails obtained by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch indicate funding topped $820,000 over six years ending in 2019.
Infectious disease expert Kristian Andersen (pictured) raised concerns with Fauci on January 31 that the virus looked ‘engineered’
The money was funneled to the lab via non-profit EcoHealth Alliance before funding was abruptly cut in April.
Fauci insisted the money did not go toward ‘gain of function’ research.
Such research involves taking a virus that could infect humans and making it more transmissible and/or pathogenic for humans.
Republicans are calling for Fauci to be fired over both the funding of the lab and what they claim has been a flip-flopping from the top doctor over the origins of the virus.
The storm erupted in recent weeks when leaked emails surfaced between him and other virologists in the early days of the pandemic, discussing the possibility the virus was genetically modified.
The emails reveal Fauci was warned by multiple experts in January 2020, on February 21, 2020 and April 16 2020 that the lab-leak theory was a possibility.
On April 18 2020, Fauci received an email from the head of a research group which partners with the Wuhan lab thanking him for publicly insisting that the evidence did not point to the lab as the source.
Last week, a classified report from influential government laboratory the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory also revealed that experts recommended as far back as May last year that more investigation was needed into the lab leak theory.
The report found the hypothesis of a lab leak to be plausible and its conclusions were used by the State Department as it probed the pandemic’s origins in the last months of the Trump administration, according to the Wall Street Journal.
While China has tried to insist the virus originated elsewhere, academics, politicians and the media have begun to contemplate the possibility it escaped from the WIV – raising suspicions that Chinese officials simply hid evidence of the early spread
Fauci has defended his handling of the virus and denied trying to play down claims it may have come from a lab.
‘That’s honestly an accusation that I have to tell you, mildly, is preposterous,’ Fauci said at The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Health event last week.
‘Right from the very beginning, when there was an issue of some people who looked at the virus and said maybe it might actually have been manipulated.
‘And what we did is that they mentioned it to me, I called together a group of people and said “Let’s take a look at this, make sure, get some virologic evolutionary biologizes together to take a look at it.”‘
He insisted most experts believed at the time it was ‘very likely a natural evolution’ but said ‘we never ruled out the possibility’ it may have been man-made.
‘It wasn’t like we were trying to hide anything,’ he said.
Fauci also pushed back at claims he downplayed the theory for political reasons and called the criticism of him ‘attacks on science’ on MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily.
‘It’s very dangerous, because a lot of what you’re seeing as attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science because all of the things that I have spoken about consistently from the very beginning have been fundamentally based on science,’ Fauci told host Chuck Todd.
Biden last month ordered US intelligence agencies to find answers about the virus’s origins.
US officials have accused China of not being transparent about the pandemic and the origins of the virus.
Did coronavirus originate in Chinese government laboratory?
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been collecting numerous coronaviruses from bats ever since the SARS outbreak in 2002. They have also published papers describing how these bat viruses have interacted with human cells.
US Embassy staff visited the lab in 2018 and ‘had grave safety concerns’ over the protocols which were being observed at the facility.
The lab is just a few miles from the Huanan wet market which is where the first cluster of infections erupted in Wuhan.
The market is just a few hundred yards from another lab called the Wuhan Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (WHCDC). The WHCDC kept disease-ridden animals in its labs, including some 605 bats.
Those who support the theory argue that Covid-19 could have leaked from either or both of these facilities and spread to the wet market. Most argue that this would have been a virus they were studying rather than one which was engineered.
Last year a bombshell paper from the Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology recounted how bats once attacked a researcher at the WHCDC and ‘blood of bat was on his skin.’
The report says: ‘Genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis (intermediate horseshoe bat).’
It describes how the only native bats are found around 600 miles away from the Wuhan seafood market and that the probability of bats flying from Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces was minimal.
In addition there is little to suggest the local populace eat the bats as evidenced by testimonies of 31 residents and 28 visitors.
Instead the authors point to research being carried out within 300 yards at the WHCDC.
One of the researchers at the WHCDC described quarantining himself for two weeks after a bat’s blood got on his skin, according to the report. That same man also quarantined himself after a bat urinated on him.
And he also mentions discovering a live tick from a bat – parasites known for their ability to pass infections through a host animal’s blood.
‘The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital where the first group of doctors were infected during this epidemic,’ the report says.
‘It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study.’
Source: Read Full Article