The White House’s top pandemic adviser said he would be ‘happy to cooperate’ with any probe because he had ‘nothing to hide’.
Republicans look likely to take the House of Representatives, which would mean they can issue a subpoena to access Dr Fauci’s documents.
Several GOP lawmakers have signaled their intent to probe Dr Fauci’s involvement in the emergence of the pandemic.
Republican Senator Rand Paul said in February during a podcast interview: ‘If I have subpoena power, we’ll go after every one of [Fauci’s] records.’
The Democrats have kept the Senate in the midterm elections, but the Republicans are likely to take the House, meaning they can issue a subpoena to gain documents from Dr Fauci.
Dr Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD), which previously funneled money into the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the lab at the center of the lab leak theory.
The lab was known to be experimenting with Covid’s closest relatives before the pandemic, and a US intelligence report told of several scientists who worked at the lab who fell ill with a mysterious flu-like sickness in November 2019.
Dr Fauci was a staunch critic of lab leak early in pandemic, denouncing it as a conspiracy theory.
But he has changed his tune in recent months as indirect evidence mounts and there is still no sign of animal host to cement the theory that the virus jumped from animals to humans.
Dr Fauci (pictured center in blue) is President Biden’s chief medical advisor, but announced in August he would be stepping down from the role in December
The question of whether the global outbreak began with a spillover from wildlife sold at the market or leaked out of the Wuhan lab just eight miles across the Yangtze River has given rise to fierce debate about how to prevent the next pandemic. New studies point to a natural spillover at the Huanan wildlife market. Positive swab samples of floors, cages and counters also track the virus back to stalls in the southwestern corner of the market (bottom left), where animals with the potential to harbor Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time (bottom right)
Senator Rand Paul said he would ‘go after every one of [Fauci’s] records’ if he became chairman of the Senate Health Committee
British researcher Dr Peter Daszak’s (left) role in facilitating risky coronavirus research in China with funding from Dr Fauci (right) and the NIH have been detailed in a report
DID COVID LEAK FROM A WUHAN LAB? THE EVIDENCE FOR AND AGAINST
Evidence for Wuhan lab-leak theory
An article in the respected Science journal on May 14, 2021 kick-started the surge in interest for the lab-leak theory.
Some 18 experts wrote in the journal that ‘we must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data’.
Later that month, a study by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr Birger Sørensen claimed it had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year.
The study included accusations of ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ at Chinese labs.
It followed statements from the WHO Director General, US and EU that greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve.
Previously, the theory had been dismissed as conspiracy by most experts, partly because of its association with President Donald Trump.
President Joe Biden in May 2021 ordered a full investigation into the origin of the pandemic virus and demanded scientists work out whether there is truth to the theory.
In December 2021, Harvard scientist Dr Alina Chan told the UK’s Science and Technology Select Committee that it is ‘reasonable’ to believe that Covid was genetically engineered in China.
She also said that the Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up of the initial outbreak in Wuhan two years ago and attempts to sabotage the World Health Organisation’s inquiry into the origins of the pandemic made the lab-leak theory likely.
The head of the World Health Organization insisted just a day earlier that the theory that Covid emerged from a Wuhan lab has not been ruled out — as he said China should help solve the mystery out of ‘respect’ for the dead.
The body’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, suggested that Beijing had not cooperated fully as he urged more ‘transparency’ in the continuing investigation.
And a senior Government source claimed in June 2022 that the WHO boss privately believes the pandemic kicked off following a leak from a Chinese lab.
In September 2022, leading medical journal the Lancet admitted the virus may have been leaked from a lab, including those in the US.
In October, a bombshell US Senate report concluded that the lab leak hypothesis was the most likely source of the pandemic.
Policymakers said there was ‘substantial’ evidence of an accident at a research facility — while evidence for a natural spillover is ‘still missing’.
The interim report concluded that China ‘s unwillingness to cooperate or open up the lab in question meant it ‘no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt’.
GOP members of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions reviewed hundreds of studies into the origins of Covid and interviewed ‘several dozen’ experts over the past 15 months.
Evidence against the theory
A series of papers point to the virus evolving in animals before being transmitted to humans, in the same way as all other previously discovered coronaviruses.
The first study, published in Scientific Reports, showed some 47,000 wild animals from 38 species were sold across four markets in Wuhan between May 2017 and November 2019.
The authors, including Dr Chris Newman, an evolutionary ecologist at Oxford University, claimed the evidence showed the conditions for animal-to-human transmission were in place in Wuhan.
But they acknowledged there was no proof Sars-CoV-2 was present or originated in any of these animals.
A joint World Health Organization-China investigation also concluded it was ‘very likely’ the virus jumped from bats to humans via an as-yet-unknown intermediary animal.
And a June 2022 report by the WHO sets out that Covid most likely originated in bats before infecting humans.
A series of studies published in July appeared to trace the first cluster of cases back to one specific corner of the wet market, where animals known to harbor Covid including raccoon dogs, hedgehogs, rats and squirrels were kept.
Chinese scientists also found positive samples of an ancestral Covid strain on floors, counters and equipment in the market.
Dr Fauci was quizzed about Paul’s warning on Saturday, The Hill reported.
He told reporters at the National Portrait Gallery gala in Washington: ‘I have nothing to hide at all, despite the accusations that I’m hiding something.
‘I have nothing that I could not explain clearly to the country and justify.’
Asked if the Republicans not winning control of the Senate would be a ‘relief’, Dr Fauci said: ‘It doesn’t matter to me how the elections go.
‘If they have oversight hearings, I’m happy to cooperate. And if they don’t, that’s good, too. I could get on with other things.’
Dr Fauci, 81, announced in August that he would be stepping down from his role as Biden’s medical advisor in December.
He is set to rake in the highest-ever federal government retirement package in US history with his annual payment exceeding $350,000, according to a Forbes estimate.
The GOP is one seat away from taking control of the House, and Republicans there have also voiced their intentions to investigate Dr Fauci, even after he retires from government service.
In August, House Oversight and Reform Committee ranking member James Comer said in a statement: ‘Retirement can’t shield Dr Fauci from congressional oversight.’
In the same month, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted: ‘Dr Fauci lost the trust of the American people when his guidance unnecessarily kept schools closed and businesses shut while obscuring questions about his knowledge on the origins of Covid.
‘He owes the American people answers. A @HouseGOP majority will hold him accountable.’
In a leaked email from 2020, disgraced scientist Dr Peter Daszak appeared to express gratitude to Dr Fauci for downplaying the theory that the Covid-19 was created in a lab.
Some allege that Dr Fauci, whose agency in 2014 issued a $3.7million grant to EcoHealth Alliance, directly contributed to the pandemic spread by providing funds that were used to support gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
EcoHealth issued WIV nearly $600,000 in sub-awards before the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suspended the grant in July 2020 due its controversial work, Vanity Fair reported.
There are multiple theories surrounding the birth of the Covid pandemic, with natural-origin proponents arguing the virus jumped from a bat host to an intermediate species and then infected humans.
Others suspected a lab-related incident from the ‘inadvertent exposure of a scientist during field research to the accidental release of a natural or manipulated strain during laboratory work,’ the magazine claimed.
There is reportedly a ‘lack of concrete evidence’ to support either theory, prompting journalists, scientists and other sleuths to place scrutiny on Dr Daszak, EcoHealth, and WIV researchers for the work in the lab, as well as Dr Fauci for indirectly supplying U.S. government funds to the facility.’
In June 2021, biologist Jesse Bloom – whom colleagues allege wanted to ‘dig deep and discover the truth’ about how Covid evolved – confronted Dr Fauci by providing him with a preprint of a paper he was seeking to have peer reviewed and published.
Dr Bloom’s paper, which was obtained by Vanity Fair, detailed how early genomic sequences of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, had ‘somehow vanished without a trace’.
The biologist claims the genomic sequences were initially published in a Chinese paper but had since been deleted from NIH databases at the ‘request of researchers in Wuhan’.
Dr Bloom, alleging the deleted genomic sequences could be ‘key to tracking when the virus emerged and how it might have evolved,’ believed the disappearance of the sequences ‘raised the possibility’ that the Chinese government was trying to cover-up evidence about the early spread of Covid.
After receiving the preprint of Dr Bloom’s paper, Dr Fauci and his boss, NIH director Francis Collins, allegedly organized a Zoom meeting with the biologist to discuss his findings.
Four additional scientists, biologist Kristian Andersen and virologist Robert Garry, who were invited by the NIH, and biologists Sergei Pond and Rasmus Nielsen, who were invited by Bloom, attended the call.
After he presented his research, Dr Bloom claims Dr Andersen interjected, claiming his preprint was ‘deeply troubling.’
Andersen reportedly told the research that NIH policy entitled the Chinese scientists to delete their sequences from the database if they wanted to and that it was ‘unethical’ for Dr Bloom to analyze them further.
He also allegedly claimed ‘there was nothing unusual about the early genomic sequences in Wuhan,’ prompting a heated argument between Andersen and Nielsen.
‘Fauci then weighed in, objecting to the preprint’s description of Chinese scientists ‘surreptitiously’ deleting the sequences,’ Vanity Fair stated, claiming the immunologist said: ‘The word was loaded and the reason they’d asked for the deletions was unknown.’