A report by the US House of Representatives’ Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic alleges that Dr. Anthony Fauci, then Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attempted to dismiss the theory that COVID-19 originated from a lab in Wuhan, China. The report, citing internal emails, alleges that Fauci encouraged researchers to write a paper, the “Proximal Origin” paper, intended to discredit the lab-leak theory.
Kristian G. Andersen, a professor at Scripps Research, who was an author of a research paper wrote in an email:
“Our main work over the last couple of weeks has been focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory,”
The report suggests that Fauci and senior staff at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) commissioned the Proximal Origin paper to prevent potential harm to China. It quotes one of the authors, Andrew Rambaut, implying that the paper was influenced by potential controversy and political considerations, rather than purely scientific evidence.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Brad Wenstrup criticized the Proximal Origin authors for purportedly ignoring evidence supporting the lab-leak theory and called the conduct “antithetical to science”. The report, which became the fifth-most viewed scientific paper in history after its publication in Nature Medicine, was frequently cited by Fauci in public statements to assert that the virus didn’t leak from a lab.
The lab-leak theory was initially dismissed by scientific authorities and US government officials, though some, including the FBI, supported the possibility. Recently, the Department of Energy revised its position, expressing “low confidence” in the lab-leak origin. Fauci has not responded to requests for comment.