Dr. Anthony Fauci has faced mounting criticism in recent weeks over evidence that he and others in the scientific community worked to cover up the possibility that COVID-19 originated in a state-run laboratory in Wuhan, China.
During an interview with CBS News on Wednesday, however, the top White House medical adviser said it was a “distortion” of the truth to suggest that scientists “deliberately suppressed” such speculation, as Fox News reported.
“Keep an open mind”
According to Fauci, he and his colleagues wanted people to “keep an open mind” about the potential origins of the pandemic virus.
“We didn’t get up and start announcing it, but what we said, ‘Keep an open mind and continue to look,'” he explained, according to Fox. “So I think it’s a bit of a distortion to say that we deliberately suppressed that.”
Dr. Fauci on COVID lab leak theory: “We’ve always said ‘keep an open mind and continue to look.’ So I think it’s a bit of a distortion to say that we deliberately suppressed that.” pic.twitter.com/20VuUBHt2Y
— The Recount (@therecount) June 16, 2021
Of course, evidence from the early days of the public health crisis seems to discredit the claim that Fauci and other experts urged Americans to keep an “open mind.”
An influential letter published in the February 2020 issues of science journal The Lancet condemned the lab leak theory as a dangerous conspiracy theory.
“Dispel the myths”
The letter by Dr. Peter Daszak, who was involved in research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and personally thanked Fauci for helping to “dispel the myths” about COVID-19’s origins, had a chilling effect on speculation about the lab. For his part, Fauci publicly argued in May of last year that the virus “could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”
Dr. Ian Lipkin, who sent an email to a former Chinese health official insisting that the virus “was not deliberately modified in any laboratory,” also thanked Fauci for his “steering and messaging” on the topic.
As recently published emails suggest, Fauci and other scientists were privately alarmed at evidence that the virus might have accidentally escaped from the Wuhan lab. In emails to coronavirus researcher Dr. Ralph Baric, Daszak encouraged him not to add his signature to the letter published by The Lancet so that it “doesn’t link it back to our collaboration,” thus preserving “an independent voice.”
Only now that damning evidence has been released is Fauci touting the benefits of transparency, but he still seems to be doubling down on his perceived authority to exonerate himself and silence his critics.
His pattern of behavior throughout the pandemic has fed the narrative among his critics that he is not the trustworthy public servant portrayed by mainstream media but instead a megalomaniac with something to hide.