(Mar. 13, 2023) — In January 2022, House Oversight Committee Republicans released a batch of emails sent to and from the National Institutes of Health (NIH),1,2,3 showing that scientists in the earliest days of the pandemic strongly suspected SARS-CoV-2 was a genetically engineered virus.
The correspondence also revealed that NIH leaders — Dr. Anthony Fauci and then-NIH chief Dr. Francis Collins — were nervous about the possibility that they’d funded the creation of this virus and were determined to suppress questions about its origin.
Fauci, Collins and at least 11 scientists convened for a conference call February 1, 2020, during which they discussed the evidence for genetic manipulation. Yet, no more than three days later, by February 4, four of the participants had already drafted a paper titled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2,” in which they dismissed the possibility of a lab origin for the virus.
One of the authors of this paper, Kristian Andersen, Ph.D., a professor at Scripps Research, has so far insisted that Fauci did not attempt to influence the working group’s conclusions.
In a letter to Sens. James Comer and Jim Jordan, Scripps Research — answering questions on Andersen’s behalf — claimed that Andersen “objectively weighted all the evidence available to him.” In a March 5, 2023, memorandum,4,5 the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic laid out evidence showing that this assertion is “demonstrably false.”
Fauci and Collins Prompted Creation of ‘Proximal Origin’
According to the Select Subcommittee, the evidence available clearly shows that Fauci did indeed prompt Andersen to write “Proximal Origin,” and for a specific reason, namely to “disprove” the lab leak theory. “The authors of this paper skewed available evidence to achieve that goal,” the Subcommittee writes.
As noted in the memorandum,6 in a February 8, 2020, email, Andersen stated: “Our main work over the last couple of weeks has been focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory …” Furthermore, in a February 12 email to the journal Nature, Andersen openly and clearly admitted Fauci’s and Collins’ influence:7
“Prompted by Jeremy Farrah [sic], Tony Fauci, and Francis Collins, Eddie Holmes, Andrew Rambaut, Bob Garry, Ian Lipkin, and myself have been working through much of the (primarily) genetic data to provide agnostic and scientifically informed hypothesis around the origins of the virus.”
“This email directly contradicts Scripps’ earlier statement that Dr. Andersen ‘objectively’ weighed all the evidence regarding the origins of COVID-19. Instead, it appears that Dr. Andersen was given direction and sought to formulate a paper, regardless of available evidence, that would disprove a lab leak,” the Subcommittee writes.8
Pangolin Narrative Was a Red Herring From the Start
The Subcommittee also highlights evidence showing that Andersen did not tell the truth when, in a July 2021 New York Times interview, he stated that features of SARS-CoV-2 that were initially thought to be unique were also found in coronaviruses in other species, such as pangolins, and that this was what convinced him the virus was zoonotic in origin.
Correspondence with the journal Nature proves Andersen actually found the pangolin data unconvincing. During the peer review of “Proximal Origin,” one reviewer asked the authors to comment on two recent reports about coronaviruses in pangolins. In reply, Andersen stated that “these additional pangolin CoV sequences do not further clarify the different scenarios discussed in our manuscript.” Another reviewer commented:
“The paper itself is interesting, but unnecessarily speculative. It’s not clear why the authors do not refute a hypothetical lab origin in their coming publication on the ancestors of SARS-CoV-2 in bats and pangolins …
Once the authors publish their new pangolin sequences, a lab origin will be extremely unlikely. It is not clear why the authors rush with a speculative perspective if their central hypothesis can be supported by their own data. Please explain.”
In his reply to the second reviewer, Andersen stressed that “Unfortunately, the newly available pangolin sequences do not elucidate the origin of SARS-CoV-2 or refute a lab origin. Hence the reviewer is incorrect on this point.” He also clarified that “There is no evidence on present data that the pangolin CoVs are directly related to the COVID-19 epidemic.”
So, while Andersen publicly claimed the pangolin data was a compelling piece of evidence for zoonotic in origin, in private, he did not believe this at all. “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,” the Subcommittee writes.
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Farrar’s Involvement Was Hidden
In addition to Fauci and Collins, Dr. Jeremy Farrar, then-director of the Wellcome Trust in the U.K., also appears to have played a prominent role in the creation of “Proximal Origin.” According to the Subcommittee memorandum:9
“The evidence available … suggests Dr. Farrar, the former Director of the Wellcome Trust and current Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, was more involved in the drafting and publication of Proximal Origin than previously known.”
Emails show Eddie Holmes, Ph.D., asked Farrar for permission to get Dr. Ian Lipkin involved. Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, was not on the February 1 conference call and was not involved in the original drafting of Proximal Origin.
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