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A report released Tuesday by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic presents evidence of a coordinated effort by federal officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, to suppress the COVID-19 lab-leak hypothesis and instead promote the “natural origin” theory.
The 55-page interim report is based on the committee’s “comprehensive investigation into the suppression of the lab-leak hypothesis by America’s leading public health officials through the drafting, publication, and critical reception of the infamous ‘The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2’ (‘Proximal Origin’) publication” in Nature Medicine.
According to the report, “extensive influence” by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the so-called “Bethesda Boys,” including Fauci and then-NIH Director Francis Collins, combined with a “flawed analysis” characterized by “an alarming lack of evidence,” led to the publication of the highly influential “Proximal Origin” paper.
The report includes previously unrevealed Slack messages and emails between the co-authors, unabridged transcripts of interviews with “every U.S.-based contributor to the paper” and a detailed analysis of the “coordinated effort” to suppress the lab-leak theory.
The conclusions were based on a review of 8,000 pages of documents, 25 hours of testimony and five interviews by the committee.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Children’s Health Defense founder and chairman on leave, explores similar allegations in his soon-to-be-released book, “The Wuhan Cover-up: How US Health Officials Conspired with the Chinese Military to Hide the Origins of COVID-19.”
The release of the report follows Tuesday’s testimony before the committee by some of the co-authors of the “Proximal Origin” paper, including Kristian Andersen, Ph.D., a professor of immunology and microbiology at the California-based Scripps Research Institute, and Robert F. Garry, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Tulane School of Medicine.
According to the report, the “Proximal Origin” paper was used to “downplay the lab-leak hypothesis” and label as “conspiracy theorists” anyone who suggested the virus may have leaked from a lab. The report indicated Fauci and Collins were personally involved in the conceptualization, drafting and publication of the paper.
Indeed, the report said, Collins “expressed dismay” when the paper, despite quickly becoming one of the most heavily cited scientific papers of all time, “did not successfully kill the lab leak theory” — prompting Fauci to double down and directly cite the paper during a White House COVID-19 briefing.
The report states that the “Proximal Origin” paper was “one of the single most impactful and influential scientific papers in history,” that has been used to “unequivocally rule out the possibility COVID-19 was the result of a lab leak,” and was cited by other influential journals such as The Lancet, to further reinforce the “natural origin” theory of COVID-19.
Yet, according to the report, the “Proximal Origin” paper’s “expressed conclusions were not based on sound science nor in fact, but instead on assumptions.”
“The question is why,” the report states.
In a statement, committee chairman Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said:
“America’s leading health officials vilified and suppressed the lab leak theory in pursuit of a preferred, coordinated narrative that was not based in truth or science. The Select Subcommittee’s report proves that the conclusions championed by the co-authors of Proximal Origin are not only inaccurate, but were crafted to appease a stated political motive. …
“Stifling scientific discourse and labeling those who believe in the possibility of a lab-leak as ‘conspiracy theorists’ caused irrefutable harm to public trust in our health officials. Americans deserve to know why honesty, transparency, and facts were abandoned. Our report is devoted to achieving that goal.”
In remarks shared with The Defender, Francis Boyle, J.D., Ph.D., a bioweapons expert and professor of international law at the University of Illinois who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, said that he warned governments and public health authorities in January 2020 that COVID-19 was an engineered bioweapon.
“My intention for doing this was to alert all governments in the world and public health authorities that what humanity was dealing with here was an existentially dangerous biological warfare weapon that must be treated as such, and not some animal virus that had somehow miraculously jumped out of the Wuhan wet-market.
“This wet-market propaganda materially downplayed the existential dangers of the Wuhan Coronavirus biowarfare weapon and substantially interfered with the proper containment, remediation and treatment of what was later called COVID-19.”
Boyle further alleged that the federal government acknowledged, in communications with him, that COVID-19 was a dangerous bioweapon, but didn’t take action. He said:
“Soon after publishing my alert, I was informed by one of the Pentagon’s top experts on chemical and biological warfare weapons that the Fort Detrick bioweapons facility had manuals on the containment and remediation of biological warfare weapons that should be applied to COVID-19.
“Those Fort Detrick manuals dealing with biological weapons should have been applied immediately. They were not. As a result, about 1.5 million Americans have died as a direct result of COVID-19.”
‘Fauci had a lot to lose’
Fauci himself was behind the “Proximal Origin” paper, according to the report, because he wanted to disprove the lab-leak theory, “to avoid blaming China for the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The report cites two possible motives underlying the drafting of the “Proximal Origin” paper. The first was “to downplay the lab leak theory [as] an interest by those involved to defend China and play diplomat,” while the second was “to lessen the likelihood of increased biosafety and laboratory regulations.”
“This is the anatomy of a cover-up,” the report states.
According to the report, on Jan. 31, 2020, Fauci “suggested” to Andersen that a paper be drafted regarding a possible lab leak.
A conference call followed the next day, in which 11 scientists participated, including Fauci, Collins and Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., now acting director of the NIH, after which the “draft of what would become Proximal Origin was completed within hours.”
According to the report, this occurred even though Fauci “was aware of the monetary relationship between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. (EcoHealth), and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), despite claiming otherwise on numerous occasions.”
Fauci was the head of NIAID until his retirement in December 2022.
The report states that “NIAID worked with EcoHealth to craft a grant policy to sidestep the gain-of-function research moratorium at the time,” allowing them to “conduct and complete dangerous experiments, with very little oversight, at the WIV that would have otherwise been blocked by the moratorium.”
This occurred even though “EcoHealth was not in compliance with the grant that provided funds to the WIV,” presumably to hide a gain-of-function experiment conducted on a potentially infectious and lethal novel coronavirus” at the WIV, which operated “with undertrained technicians and at a substandard biosafety level” — all of which Fauci was aware of, the report states.
A Feb. 2, 2020, Slack message by Andrew Rambaut, Ph.D., a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, and one of the co-authors of “Proximal Origin,” was indicative of attempts to “play diplomat.” Rambaut wrote:
“Given the s**t show that would happen if anyone serious accused the Chinese of even accidental release, my feeling is we should say that given there is no evidence of a specifically engineered virus, we cannot possibly distinguish between natural evolution and escape so we are content with ascribing it to natural process.”
Indeed, according to the report, Fauci was not only aware of deficiencies at the Wuhan lab but also of the novel characteristics of the new virus, “some of which could be research derived.”
“All of these facts demonstrate that — if this virus was the result of a laboratory or research related incident — Dr. Fauci had a lot to lose,” the report said.
Fauci ‘exerted undue influence’ in drafting of ‘Proximal Origin’ paper
According to the report, Fauci, Collins and the NIH — the parent agency of NIAID — exerted “undue influence” over the drafting and publication of “Proximal Origin,” which drew two conclusions: 1) COVID-19 was “not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus;” and 2) no “laboratory-based scenario is plausible.”
Earlier in January 2020, Jeremy Farrar, Ph.D., then-head of the Wellcome Trust, noted there were “unusual aspects” contained within the sequence of COVID-19, and that there was “chatter” at the time suggesting “the virus looked almost engineered to infect human cells.”
Yet, according to the report, “Dr. Farrar’s first concern was not the well-being of the planet,” but instead, whether the novel coronavirus might be related to gain-of-function research, which Farrar believed to be “ultimately useful.”
Farrar is now chief scientist at the World Health Organization.
The report states that at around this time, Andersen expressed his own concerns “regarding the possibility the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of a lab leak and that it had properties that may have been genetically modified or engineered.”
Andersen “also found a paper written by Dr. Ralph Baric and Dr. Zhengli Shi … that purported to have inserted furin cleavage sites into SARS.” According to the report, Farrar described the Baric/Shi paper as a “how-to manual for building the Wuhan coronavirus in a laboratory.”
Baric is an epidemiologist, microbiologist and immunologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Shi is the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the WIV.
Interactions, including several phone calls and emails, followed between Fauci and Andersen throughout January 2020, leading up to the Feb. 1, 2020, conference call to “discuss a path forward.”
Andersen testified to the committee that during the Feb. 1, 2020, call, he expressed his concerns that COVID-19 may have been developed in a laboratory, adding that during the call, Fauci “really didn’t say much of substance” — instead, “Farrar was clearly sort of introducing and ending the meeting. It was his call to make.”
“Through its investigation, the Select Subcommittee has learned that Dr. Fauci and the NIH exerted more influence over the conference call than previously disclosed,” the report states, and that by the end of the conference call, Fauci “suggested the drafting of a paper regarding the potential of a lab leak to Dr. Andersen twice.”
“This suggestion was what ‘prompted’ Dr. Andersen to draft Proximal Origin” — with the first draft completed “only hours after the conference call.”
However, the report says that, based on Andersen’s testimony, the goal of this paper “was not to discover the origin of COVID-19 nor protect from future pandemics, but instead, to disprove the lab leak theory” — with Farrar having said the intent of the paper was for it to serve as a “go-to scientific statement to refer to.”
Such efforts proceeded despite a lack of evidence.
For instance, in a Feb. 8, 2020, email, Andersen wrote:
“Our main work over the past couple of weeks has been focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory, but we are a crossroad where the scientific evidence isn’t conclusive enough to say that we have high confidence in any of the three main theories considered.”
And in a Feb. 20, 2020, email, Andersen wrote:
“Unfortunately none of this helps refute a lab origin and the possibility must be considered as a serious scientific theory (which is what we do) and not dismissed out of hand as another ‘conspiracy’ theory. We all really, really wish that we could do that (that’s how this got started), but unfortunately its just not possible given the data.”
Throughout the process, the report states, “the authors of Proximal Origin were keenly aware of the influence of Dr. Fauci, Dr. Collins, and Dr. Farrar,” with drafts of the paper shared with the three officials — sometimes referred to in emails as the “Bethesda Boys” — on several occasions in early February 2020.
Indeed, the report states that Farrar would “push” for the publication of “Proximal Origin” in Nature Medicine later in February 2020, while Andersen testified that Farrar was the “father figure” of the paper.
Bethesda, Maryland, is home to NIH headquarters.
‘Proximal Origin’ paper relied on ‘fatally flawed’ evidence
According to a press release on the report, the co-authors of the “Proximal Origin” paper “skewed available evidence when executing Dr. Fauci’s vision of a single narrative,” adding that “The facts and science relied upon to draw conclusions in ‘Proximal Origin’ have never been proven or verified.”
“Many of the arguments championed by the publication suffer from inaccurate assumptions and obvious inconsistencies” and were “fatally flawed,” the report states.
The report further states that the conclusions of the “Proximal Origins” paper relied on three primary — but “flawed” — arguments: “(1) the presence of a non-optimal RBD and that RBD appearing in other viral sequences — particularly pangolins, (2) the presence or furin cleavage sites in other coronaviruses, and (3) the concept that any laboratory manipulation would have used an already published viral backbone.”
Emails revealed in the report show that the co-authors were advised — perhaps by Fauci — to “redraft” the paper to “come down more on the natural origin,” given the three arguments the paper was using as its basis of analysis.
This was despite a number of statements from several of the paper’s co-authors, directly cited in the report, indicating their belief and knowledge at the time that “it is possible to manipulate a novel coronavirus in a lab” in order to develop attributes that would make it more infectious for humans.
In a series of Slack conversations between these scientists, revealed in the report, statements such as “you can synthesize bits of genes de novo with perfect precision then add them back in without a trace” and “Molecular biologists like myself can generate perfect copies of these viruses without leaving a trace,” were presented.
Such characteristics, such as a furin cleavage site, are unique to COVID-19 among SARS-related coronaviruses, the report states, further lending credence to the theory that the virus was manipulated to be more infectious toward humans.
Further Slack conversations between the paper’s co-authors also revealed discussion indicating that they could “make a CoV reverse genetics clone from scratch” within a week and that scientists had “created a reverse genetics system for their bat virus on a whim.”
Nevertheless, other Slack messages decried the political influence involved in the process of drafting “Proximal Origin.” In one message, Andersen said, “Although I hate when politics is injected into science — but it’s impossible not to, especially given the circumstances.”
‘Proximal Origin’ initially rejected — for not sufficiently downplaying lab leak
According to the report, “Proximal Origin” was pitched to Nature Medicine on Feb. 12, 2020, and a manuscript of the paper was submitted five days later.
The report states that “Proximal Origin” was rejected by Nature Medicine on Feb. 20, 2020 — not because of deficiencies in the evidence it relied upon, but “because it didn’t sufficiently downplay the lab leak theory” and because concerns were raised during the review “about whether such a piece would feed or quash the conspiracy theories.”
As a result, “The co-authors amended their paper to include stronger language that would unequivocally rule out the lab-leak hypothesis to ensure approval by Nature Medicine.” The revised manuscript was submitted on Feb. 27, 2020.
The report revealed that Garry, one of the co-authors of the paper, even appears to have suggested reviewers to the journal’s editors, stating that “there are some natural choices” for individuals to review the manuscript.
“These comments raise serious bias concerns with both the review of Proximal Origin and the peer review process generally,” the report stated.
Investigation to continue with requests for interviews with Fauci, Collins
According to the report, “Investigating any egregious COVID-19 cover-up is essential to preserving future scientific integrity.”
Given the “colossal reach” and “dubious conclusions” of the paper, “it is necessary to analyze the process and publication of this paper to prevent the suppression of scientific discourse in future pandemics,” the report further states.
The press release adds that the committee’s investigation will continue, as, “There are still outstanding requests for transcribed interviews and documents from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins. The Select Subcommittee will follow through on these requests.”
For Boyle though, more action is needed. He told The Defender:
“All of the scientists involved in this ‘Proximal Origins’ cover-up must assume their legal responsibility for this national tragedy. If not for their cover-up, this tragedy of massive American deaths and disabilities because of COVID-19 could have been substantially ameliorated.
“All of the scientists involved in this cover-up must be indicted and prosecuted. Congress must terminate all gain-of-function ‘research’ and impose draconian criminal sanctions upon all scientists who engage in it, up to and including life imprisonment.”
“All BSL3s and BSL4s [biosafety level 3 and 4 labs] in the world must be immediately shut down in order to prevent another global pandemic that could be even more lethal and more infectious than COVID-19,” Boyle said, adding his view that the virus “was manufactured as an offensive biological warfare weapon with gain-of-function properties” in Wuhan and at the University of North Carolina.
Aside from Tuesday’s testimony, the committee has heard from figures such as the now-departed former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky last month, by former CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield in March, stating COVID-19 was engineered, and by other public health experts critical of gain-of-function research that same month.
In February, the U.S. Department of Energy said it now believes COVID-19 most likely emerged from the Wuhan lab — a position subsequently adopted publicly by FBI Director Christopher Wray. The next month, Congress passed a bill demanding federal agencies declassify documents pertaining to the origins of COVID-19.
The committee’s report comes as a federal judge in Louisiana ruled against the Biden administration in an ongoing lawsuit last week, ordering some government officials and federal agencies to not communicate with social media platforms after finding evidence they colluded to censor COVID-19 counternarratives, including the lab-leak theory.