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Scientists deny that Dr. Fauci influenced their paper on COVID origins

Jul 11, 2023

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The authors of an article on the origins of COVID-19 are standing by their conclusion that the COVID-19 pandemic did not start with an accidental lab leak. Instead, they say it was likely the result of a natural zoonotic transfer. 

The authors also denied that Dr. Anthony Fauci encouraged them to write the article and that he attempted to exert influence over its findings. 

“Did Dr. Fauci or Dr. Collins ever influence the conclusions drawn in your paper?” Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., asked.

“Not in any way,” Dr. Robert Garry, one of the authors, said.

Their denials came during a Republican-led congressional hearing on the article in the Nature Journal titled “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2.” It was published in 2020 and promoted by the National Institutes of Health. Doctors and scientists cited the article to discredit the lab leak theory. 

The article stated, “It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus.”  

The authors said the virus likely started with a zoonotic transfer. 

Republicans targeted the paper in a new interim staff report on what they call “the suppression of the lab-leak hypothesis by America’s leading public health officials.” 

“The facts are that the author’s approximate origin ultimately took a one-sided educated guess,” Coronavirus Pandemic Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said.  

In addition to the accusations of undue influence against Fauci, the Republican report also revealed private Slack messages between authors Dr. Andrew Rambaut and Dr. Kristian Andersen.

“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,” Rambaut wrote.

Andersen replied, “Yup, I totally agree that that’s a very reasonable conclusion. Although I hate when politics is injected into science – but its impossible not to…”

The authors still repeatedly denied accusations of interference and said certain parts of their research had been misconstrued. 

“You have stated that pangolins may have played some role in the recombination event that led to the COVID pandemic. Is that correct?” Wenstrup asked.

“That is not correct,” Andersen replied.

Democrats on the subcommittee said Republicans should be focused on learning how to prevent future pandemics. They called this hearing political theater.

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