On January 8th and 9th, I participated in a two-day Congressional transcribed interview (what normal people would call a deposition) with Dr. Anthony Fauci to learn more about his role in the COVID-19 outbreak and response.
These are my key takeaways from my preparation for the deposition and the deposition itself:
1. We need better protocols and oversight of biosafety laboratories. Fauci, who was the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), claims he did not know much about the grants awarded to EcoHealth Alliance and nothing about the subsequent subgrants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This is unacceptable. He was the head of the agency that awarded the grants, and the buck should stop with him. At the very least, before his agency got the U.S. involved with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, he should have had a working knowledge of their operations. He disavowed all knowledge of the Institute, even saying if someone said Wuhan before COVID-19, he wouldn’t know if they were referring to Wuhan University, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or another entity in Wuhan.
And when EcoHealth Alliance did not forward required reports for more than a year, someone at NIAID should have been aware and raised Cain.
2. We need a generally accepted definition of gain-of-function (GoF) research for U.S. grant purposes. According to Fauci, NIAID was not funding any GoF research. Under the definition he was using, that may be so. But NIAID is a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and on the NIH website at the time the research was being done, they used a different definition of GoF. Under that definition, NIAID was funding GoF research. Both definitions are acceptable in various settings, but this type of research is too serious to not have a generally accepted definition.
3. At a structural level, some scientists referenced in an email to Fauci found aspects of the virus perplexing. They queried how it could happen in nature. When looking at the makeup of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, researcher Mike Farzan took issue with how the furin cleavage site was in the virus. He believed it was difficult to explain how this could happen outside of a lab. While possible, it is highly unlikely to occur in nature. Additionally, Dr. Bob Garry observed the virus had a perfect 12-nucleotide insertion as part of the furin cleavage site and didn’t know how this could happen in nature. The furin cleavage site is a large part of what made the virus so contagious. And, interestingly, prior coronaviruses did not contain a furin cleavage site.
4. Fauci said he had an open mind when it came to how the COVID-19 outbreak could have started, whether it was spread via animal transmission at a wet market or a lab leak, but he believes it was due to animal transmission. However, he gave no indication of his open-mindedness to the American people in public statements.
Those who believed COVID-19 started due to a lab leak were universally shunned and their opinions were taken down and/or barred from many social media sites.
Based on the evidence I have seen, I believe COVID-19 started due to an accidental lab leak. This is in part because no animal source has ever been found (in the past we’ve been able to find one). Further, the Chinese government did not look at a large sample of animals in their search, nor was the virus found in animals near the time of the outbreak. If the Chinese thought the virus started in animals, they would have scoured the region looking for the animal source. Their lack of strenuous effort indicates to me the Chinese know the source was a lab leak.
Fauci said we needed to continue to look for the animal source, but also admitted that without Chinese cooperation, we may never be able to determine with scientific certainty which theory is correct.
As a long-time practicing attorney, I only need proof that eliminates reasonable doubt, not proof to a scientific certainty. For example, circumstantial evidence and little else was sufficient to put the murderer of Gina Renee Hall (a student at Radford University) in prison. As you will recall, she disappeared and later in 1980, her murderer was convicted in Pulaski County and given a life sentence based substantially on circumstantial evidence.
That being said, the evidence of an accidental lab leak, in my opinion, also eliminates reasonable doubt.
– Congressman Morgan Griffith