On February 1, 2020, Fauci and Collins were joined by nearly a dozen other scientists in a conference call with the Director of the Wellcome Trust in London, Sir Jeremy Farrar. In the call, they were told that it appeared that the virus had leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China and may have been genetically engineered.
Fauci and Collins exchanged emails in which they unanimously and quickly agreed that they would suppress this evidence and do their best to stop others from promoting the theory of a lab leak.
Part of the reason may have been a desire to preserve their relations with China, but it is likely they were also concerned about what would happen if their own gain of function research carried out at the same lab were tied to the deadly virus.
In the virus's early days, those who dared to suggest that it had escaped from the Wuhan Institute Of Virology were swiftly labeled conspiracy theorists, but the new emails indicate that there was a conspiracy to keep people from discussing this idea.
As Nicholas Wade of the City Journal explains: “The latest emails don’t prove such a conspiracy, but they make it more plausible, for two reasons: because the expert virologists therein present such a strong case for thinking that the virus had lab-made features and because of the wholly political reaction to this bombshell on the part of Francis Collins, then-director of the National Institutes of Health.”
He explained how on February 1, 2020, four virologists emailed Fauci about the virus’s genomic sequence, which had been shared three weeks earlier. Virologist Kristian G. Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute said the genome was “inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.” The four virologists agreed unanimously that the virus was not natural and could have escaped from a lab. In particular, the furin cleavage site possessed a type of precision not usually found in nature.
Farrar admitted his concerns about the political fallout if these preliminary findings about the virus’s lab origins proved to be true in his 2021 book, Spike: The Virus Versus the People, writing: "With extremely tense U.S. relations and an unpredictable American president determined to see a biological threat through the distorting lens of nationalism, it didn’t feel too melodramatic to wonder if an engineered virus, either accidentally leaked or intentionally released, might be the sort of thing countries could go to war over."
Three days after the conference call, Farrar sent Fauci a draft of a paper that had been signed by several colleagues entitled The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2, which dismisses the lab leak theory, insisting the virus's origins were natural. Andersen signed the paper, completely disregarding the evidence that had initially led him to believe the virus was engineered. Farrar claimed in his book that intensive analysis ruled out a lab leak, but it doesn’t add up that such a thorough scientific investigation could have been carried out in the three days between Andersen expressing his concerns about a lab leak and the study stating the opposite.
One possibility is a fear among some scientists of Fauci's considerable power. Indian journalist Madhav Das Nalapat claims that the careers of scientists who supported the lab leak origin theory of COVID-19 were threatened by Fauci and his cronies. He said that several scientists and health experts in the U.S. and Japan had insisted to him that the natural origin theory did not hold water.
“Then I asked them, ‘What’s wrong with you guys? Why are you silent?’ But they said, ‘If we speak out, Dr. Fauci and his gang will destroy us, will destroy our reputations, will destroy our careers. We do not dare to speak out,'” he stated.
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