Back in May, I reported on a letter Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) sent to Dr. Anthony Fauci about the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus, which The Washington Post included in their coverage. Jerry Dunleavy with The Washington Examiner who has been consistently covering the issue, had an update on Friday. While the congressman did hear back from Dr. Fauci, in a letter from June 25, he is less than thrilled with the level of ignorance:
Gallagher told the Washington Examiner, “Dr. Fauci continues to hide behind highly legalistic responses that raise more questions than answers.
“Moreover, if it’s true that the man in charge of our response to the pandemic didn’t have access to the relevant intelligence, that’s extremely troubling, and we need to find out why.”
"Have you scrutinized all that the U.S. government knows about the sick researchers at the WIV, including the facts released by the State Department in January and any additional underlying intelligence or other information? If so, how so? If not, why not," one of the questions asked.
While Dr. Fauci's answer to that question read "I am aware of unconfirmed reports of illness in WIV personnel,” Fauci said. “I do not have in my possession, nor do I have access to, any of the non-public information," former officials say otherwise:
A former Trump administration official told the Washington Examiner: “Dr. Fauci could easily request the underlying information as part of the Biden administration’s review of COVID origins. He should also provide his insights to the director of national intelligence review, including his view on COVID origins and WIV’s coronavirus research.”
The State Department fact sheet released in January stated Wuhan lab workers became sick with COVID-19-like symptoms in 2019, which called into question the truthfulness of the lab’s denials. The WHO-China report said Wuhan lab officials claimed “no unusual respiratory infections had been noted in the previous year” and that “no suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 was seen by PCR and antibody testing of all staff was negative.”
David Asher, the former head of a State Department task force examining COVID-19's origins, discussed the sick lab workers in March, saying: “There is a possibility it was influenza, but I’m very doubtful that three people in highly protected circumstances in a level three laboratory working on coronaviruses would all get sick with influenza that put them in a hospital or in severe conditions all in the same week, and it didn’t have anything with the coronavirus.”
Another former State Department official told the Washington Examiner: “I believe they were hospitalized. … If those people were sick — I think they were, we know they were — and the Wuhan Institute of Virology didn’t take any measure, then that is gross negligence. If they did take measures and they still lie about it, then it’s a cover-up.”
In his answers to the five questions, Dr. Fauci referenced trusting in a World Health Organization investigation no less than three times, even and including when responding to a question where the congressman expresses concerns with "the Chinese Communist Party’s extensive coverup and lack of transparency, surrounding the origins of the pandemic." As Rep. Gallagher has told Townhall before, the WHO investigation is "corrupted." Nevertheless, the Biden administration still continues to put faith into the agency.
The Biden administration also pulled out of an investigation put in place from the Trump State Department, as Townhall has reported. When joining the GOP Doctors Caucus in a press conference last week, Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) reaffirmed this point and reiterated concerns with the WHO.
Another question asked about gain of function research, yet Dr. Fauci still claimed, as he's done in the past, that what took place was not gain of function:
Fauci replied that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases “supported coronavirus research conducted by WIV under a sub-award from EcoHealth Alliance from fiscal years 2015 through 2019” and the agency’s “funding for the coronavirus research at WIV totaled approximately $600,000 over the five-year period.” He contended that “no NIAID funding was approved to support gain-of-function research at WIV as defined by United States Government criteria” and that the U.S.’s gain-of-function moratorium “did not apply to any of the NIAID-funded studies at WIV because the approved work did not propose to manipulate the viruses in a way that would increase their transmissibility of pathogenicity.” Fauci said, “Therefore, the research that NIAID approved EcoHealth to conduct with WIV did not meet the USG criteria for gain-of-function research.”
Richard Ebright, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, told the Washington Examiner in May that “the research was, unequivocally, gain of function research.”
The NIH’s RePORTER website said the agency has provided $15.2 million to Peter Daszak's EcoHealth Alliance over the years, with $3.74 million provided toward understanding the risk of bat coronavirus emergence.
In a testy exchange with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is also a doctor, Dr. Fauci insisted that gain of function research did not apply in this case.
It's not just what Dr. Fauci said, but what he didn't say.
The final question also asked Dr. Fauci about gain of function:
You have argued over the years that gain-of-function research is a risk worth taking, given the potential benefits for the creation of vaccines and therapeutics. Does the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of a leak from the WIV raise questions about the future prudence of gain-of-function research? How can we quantify the risks associated with this type of research in the future, particularly when it comes to non-transparent countries like China, and at what point does this research simply become too risky?As component agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NIH and NIAID follow the HHS Framework for Guiding Funding Decisions about Proposed Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens when assessing proposed research on enhanced potential pandemic pathogens.
This non-answer speaks volumes. That being said, considering Dr. Fauci has misled on gain of function research before, which Rep. Gallagher has warned about, it's not entirely surprising that Fauci would stick to the same talking points.