Dr. Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance and leader of the World Health Organization‘s (WHO) Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) origin investigative team thanked Dr. Anthony Fauci for publicly dismissing the theory that the virus that caused the global pandemic may have come from a lab.
On April 18, 2020, Daszak sent an email to Fauci to thank the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for discrediting the credible allegation that the coronavirus was engineered by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and it accidentally leaked after infecting one of the institute’s employees.
“I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” wrote Daszak in the email. “From my perspective, your comments are brave, and coming from your trusted voice, will help dispel the myths being spun around the virus’s origins.”
Less than 12 months after Daszak sent this email to Fauci, he would be in Wuhan personally leading a WHO team supposedly charged with investigating the origin of the coronavirus. (Related: Rick Scott criticizes WHO “investigative team” for visiting Chinese propaganda exhibition in Wuhan.)
Fauci responded to the email the next day, writing: “Many thanks for your kind note.”
Daszak was responding to Fauci’s comments on April 17, 2021, when a reporter asked the latter whether or not the coronavirus could have come from one of the WIV’s labs.
“There was a study recently … where a group of highly qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences there and the sequences in bats as they evolve,” said Fauci at the time. “The mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.”
This statement contrasts with comments he made in May when he said that he was “not convinced” that the coronavirus developed naturally.
Emails shed light on Daszak and Fauci’s relationship
Mainstream news outlet Buzzfeed News obtained Daszak’s email to Fauci through a Freedom of Information Act request. The website has since released more than 3,200 pages of emails from Fauci covering January to June 2020.
The emails also provide a closer look into Fauci’s relationship with Daszak. Notably, he forwarded “anti-conspiracy theory” articles to colleagues that quoted Daszak disparaging the lab leak origin theory.
It should be noted that Daszak, as the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, used around $3.4 million in grants he received from Fauci’s NIAID to the WIV between 2014 to 2019. The grant money was specifically given to fund research and other work regarding the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, June 2, Fauci talked about the legitimate concerns regarding the grant money during an interview on News Nation.
“The Wuhan lab is a very large lab, to the tune of hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. The grant that we’re talking about was $600,000 over five years,” he said, in an attempt to diminish the fact that money was still being diverted into the WIV.
Fauci further argued that the WIV’s work regarding the coronavirus is essential since the research is intended to assess the threat of certain viruses to humans, “which might then damage the United States.”
“You don’t want to go to Hoboken, New Jersey, or to Fairfax, Virginia, to be studying the bat-human interface that may lead to an outbreak,” added Fauci. “So you go to China.”
One of the criticisms raised with the grant money being funneled to the WIV is that scientists in the Chinese institute may have performed gain-of-function research on coronaviruses. They could have done this by engineering the coronavirus samples in the labs to make them more infectious and possibly even more dangerous. Fauci did not directly respond to this criticism. He instead talked about how, as scientists, the people at the WIV are obligated to do their work.
“I can’t guarantee everything that’s going on in the Wuhan lab, we can’t do that, but it is our obligation as scientists and public health individuals to study the animal-human interface.”
Commenting on the release of the emails, Fauci said that they have been taken out of context because people have been cutting out individual sentences in emails without showing what the emails actually said in their entirety. “You don’t really have the full context.”
Learn more about the ongoing debate regarding the coronavirus’ lab leak origins by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.