At the start of the pandemic, did the American health authorities hide from the general public that SARS-CoV-2 could come from a laboratory? This is the conclusion that some draw from a document of ten pages made public on January 11, 2022 by the Republican Party, targeting Anthony Fauci, director of the American National Institute of Infectious Diseases (Niaid), main responsible for the management of the pandemic in the United States.
We’ve released never before seen emails showing Dr. Fauci may have concealed information about #COVID19… https://t.co/VNUYrdFb9k
“We have posted previously unpublished emails showing that the Dr Fauci withheld information about an origin of Covid-19 from the Wuhan laboratory, and intentionally downplayed the thesis of a laboratory leak. “
This publication comes as the Dr Fauci, auditioned in the US Senate, accuses the republicans to encourage “Out of whack” to threaten him with death by propagating false accusations about him for months.
What do these documents contain?
the online file contains nine emails, received or sent by officials of the US National Institute of Health (NIH), the leading medical research agency, including geneticist Francis Collins. Most date back to the very beginning of February 2020, when several international experts in virology, immunology, and evolutionary biology met by teleconference to discuss the possible origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
These emails had already been obtained by the Washington Post and Buzzfeed in June 2020, but part of the content was redacted: they are now partially or completely transcribed. Two elements stand out:
- As already shown by several e-mails made public, the thesis of a virus “released” from a laboratory was taken seriously from the outset by experts, and even sometimes deemed more likely than a zoonosis (disease transmitted from an animal to humans). “For me, it’s 70-30 or 60-40”, wrote virologist Michael Farzan, on 1is February 2020.
- The NIH lobbied for this lead to be disqualified, via scientific publications or communications from the World Health Organization (WHO). He even reduced it to a “Very destructive conspiracy theory”, believing that it would harm scientific research.
What do we know about the authenticity of these emails?
They were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, a right to information law that requires US federal agencies to share their documents with anyone who requests them.
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What do the new emails made public say about the origin of SARS-CoV-2?