During an interview with CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the email he received last year from the US-based EcoHealth Alliance regarding the lab leak has been misconstrued.
Apparently, the infectious disease expert received an email from an executive from the alliance last year. It was one of the thousands of emails Fauci sent and received since becoming a household name under his title as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director.
The emails under scrutiny were obtained by CNN, BuzzFeed News, and the Washington Post.
According to CNN, Fauci offered a hint of regret about a February 2020 email in which he downplayed the need to wear a mask.
EcoHealth Alliance is a global nonprofit that helped fund some research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. An executive sent Fauci an email last April thanking him for publicly saying that scientific evidence supported a natural origin for the coronavirus and not a lab release.
However, the origination of the virus remains unknown.
“There are some of your critics who say this shows you have too cozy of a relationship with the people behind the Wuhan lab research,” CNN’s John Berman said to Fauci on New Day. “What do you say to that?”
“That’s nonsense,” Fauci responded. “I don’t even see how they get that from that email.” He also went on to say that the email was sent to him.
“I have always said and will say today to you, John, that I still believe the most likely origin is from an animal species to a human, but I keep an absolutely open mind that if there may be other origins of that, there may be another reason, it could have been a lab leak,” Fauci told Berman. “I believe if you look historically, what happens in the animal-human interface, that in fact, the more likelihood is that you’re dealing with a jump of species. But I keep an open mind all the time. And that’s the reason why I have been public that we should continue to look for the origin.”
“You can misconstrue it however you want — that email was from a person to me saying ‘thank you’ for whatever it is he thought I said, and I said that I think the most likely origin is a jumping of species. I still do think it is, at the same time as I’m keeping an open mind that it might be a lab leak.”
He also received an April 16 email from NIH director Francis Collins, which mentioned that the “conspiracy theory gains momentum,” a dismissive reference to the lab leak hypothesis.
Fauci said he couldn’t recall the substance of that email—which was mostly redacted.
“They only took about 10,000 emails from me, of course, I remember. I remember all 10,000 of them. Give me a break,” he said. “I don’t remember what’s in that redacted, but the idea I think is quite farfetched that the Chinese deliberately engineered something so that they could kill themselves as well as other people. I think that’s a bit far out, John.”
Berman also discussed a February 5, 2020 email in which Fauci emailed Sylvia Burwell, the former secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services. He did not recommend that a mask be worn in the email since she traveled to a low-risk location. In his defense, the email was sent before the virus was claimed a pandemic and before the CDC advised masks to be worn as a measure of protection.
“A lot has transpired since then. If you had to go back and do it all over again, would you tell her something different? Do you regret that?” Berman asked Fauci.
“Let’s get real here — if you look at scientific information as it accumulates, what is going on in January and February, what you know as a fact, as data, guides what you tell people and your policies. If March, April, May occur, you accumulate a lot more information, and you modify and adjust your opinion and your recommendation based on the current science and current data,” Fauci told Berman.
“So, of course, if we knew back then that a substantial amount of transmission was asymptomatic people. If we knew that the data show that masks outside of a hospital setting actually do work when we didn’t know it then. If we realize all of those things back then, of course,” he said. “You’re asking a question, ‘Would you do something different if you know what you know now?’ Of course, people would have done that. That’s so obvious.”