Republicans said they are ready, if the GOP can win control of the House or Senate in November, to combine investigative forces to figure out why scientists abruptly reversed their positions on the COVID-19 lab leak theory.

An illuminating array of emails, disclosed by leading GOP investigators and serving as a road map for lines of inquiry, shows scientists consulting with the government believed early in the pandemic that COVID-19 originating from a lab in Wuhan, China, was possible or even likely but that Dr. Anthony Fauci worked behind the scenes to shut the hypothesis down. In particular, notes from a Feb. 1, 2020, conference call show at least 11 scientists theorized about the virus’s origin, with many leaning toward the lab leak theory, but most of them soon came out in favor of the natural origin, and some signed letters calling a lab leak a conspiracy theory.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) released a video discussing what they call “the Fauci COVID Cover Up” and ways in which the GOP could turn up the heat should they emerge victorious in the midterm elections, including more authority to access powerful tools such as subpoenas. Jordan, who is expected to be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee if Republicans take back the House, said part of his plan for understanding the origins of COVID-19 is to get information from the 11 virologists through sworn testimony and then have Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Francis Collins, the now-former head of the National Institutes of Health, testify under oath.

“One of the things we’ve done is we’re putting those 11 virologists on notice,” Jordan said. “Those are the first people you want to talk to. You want to talk to the 11 guys on that call, and you want to find out what exactly did happen. We’ve seen the emails and correspondence after the call, subsequent to the call, but what all happened?”

Jordan added: “We want to find out what exactly Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins may have had to say on that particular phone call. So that’s how you start investigations. You don’t bring in Fauci for a deposition right away. You start by looking at these folks who were on the call, get all the documents you can in unredacted form — so that’s something that needs to happen.”

“The key is, we know or we’re convinced that Dr. Fauci, Dr. Collins, and others knew right from the get-go that this thing most likely came from the lab, and I think they took real concerted steps to make sure the country didn’t get that information,” Jordan said.

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, sent an email to Collins, Fauci, and Lawrence Tabak, then the principal deputy director of the NIH and now its acting director, on Feb. 2, 2020, summarizing the conference call the night prior and indicating that some of the scientists believed the lab leak hypothesis was viable. Farrar noted, for example, that Mike Farzan, dubbed the “discoverer of SARS receptor” and a professor of immunology at Scripps Research, found a key aspect of the virus “highly unlikely” to have developed outside a lab.

“So I think it becomes a question of how do you put all this together, whether you believe in this series of coincidences, what you know of the lab in Wuhan, how much could be in nature — accidental release or natural event? I am 70-30 or 60-40,” Farrar recounted Farzan saying on the call.

Another scientist on the call, Tulane University School of Medicine microbiology professor Robert Garry, apparently said he could see no “plausible natural scenario” for key amino acids and nucleotides to have been inserted into the virus.

Collins sent an email back to Farrar, Fauci, and Tabak that day, saying he was “coming around to the view that a natural origin is more likely” and alluding to the lab leak hypothesis as a “conspiracy theory.”

But an email from Farrar to Fauci and Collins on Feb. 4, 2020, also indicated that Eddie Holmes, a professor at the University of Sydney, was “60-40″ on a lab leak versus natural origin, while “I am 50-50.”

Yet another email, this one from Collins to Fauci and others dated April 16, 2020, showed him trying to push back against reporting from Bret Baier of Fox News on the lab leak theory.

“Wondering if there is something NIH can do to help put down this very destructive conspiracy, with what seems to be growing momentum,” Collins wrote. “I hoped the Nature Medicine article [casting doubt on the lab leak theory in March 2020] on the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 would settle this.”

A day later, Fauci replied, “I would not do anything about this right now. It is a shiny object that will go away in time.” But when asked about the possibility of a lab leak during a White House press conference that day, Fauci argued in favor of a natural origin.

“The emails that we’ve now looked at show that the consensus on the call is that this thing probably came from a lab,” Jordan said in the new video.

House Republicans sent a letter to Fauci and Andersen last July and sent letters in February to seven of the scientists “who initially believed COVID-19 may have leaked from the Wuhan lab to provide answers under oath,” according to a press release.

Fauci falsely claimed in March that a February 2020 letter on COVID-19’s origins did not dismiss the Wuhan lab leak hypothesis.

The February 2020 letter praised China’s response: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin. … Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear.” It was signed by many of the scientists on the call with Fauci and Collins.

Peter Daszak, a longtime collaborator with the Wuhan Institute of Virology and leader of EcoHealth Alliance who steered hundreds of thousands of dollars in NIH funding to the Chinese lab, helped organize the letter.

EcoHealth has received tens of millions of dollars from the U.S. government in recent years, including a few million dollars from the NIH, and it passed along at least $600,000 in funding from the United States to the Wuhan lab. The 2019 NIH grant to EcoHealth was only suspended in 2020.

Fauci has been adamant the NIH did not fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab, but earlier this year, the NIH determined that EcoHealth violated its guidelines when doing risky bat coronavirus experiments in China.

A follow-up July 2021 Lancet letter, signed by 24 of the 27 scientists who signed the first one, included a citation to an article titled, “The lab leak theory doesn’t hold up. The rush to find a conspiracy around the COVID-19 pandemic’s origins is driven by narrative, not evidence.”

Marshall wrote in February that the authors of those letters have collectively received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, arguing that “a failure to carry water for Collins and Fauci certainly could have resulted in new grants being reduced or even pulled back” so “one need not believe there is an actual quid-pro-quo here to recognize that a conflict of interest arises.”

Last week, Marshall questioned Fauci during Senate testimony, asking the Biden medical adviser when he would stop funding research in China. Fauci declined to make any such promise and defended U.S. collaboration with China.

“We have, in the NIH and other agencies in the federal government, have very productive, peer-reviewed, highly regarded research projects with our Chinese colleagues that have led to some major advances in biomedical research,” Fauci said. “So I don’t think I’d be able to tell you that we are going to stop funding [the] Chinese.”

Marshall asked Fauci if he denies that the public does not have access to all of the records and studies from EcoHealth’s research in China. Fauci replied that “we have access to an extraordinary amount of information that has gone there” while admitting that “obviously none of us know everything that’s going on in China.”

Marshall has pushed legislation to create a 9/11 Commission-style investigation to get to the bottom of the origins of COVID-19.

“I’m hopeful the Senate is going to be in Republican hands. I’m hoping the House is going to be as well,” Jordan said in the new video. “And we’re already talking about a joint-type of investigation we can do because the country deserves the truth.”

Jordan said, “If the American people put us in charge and we have majorities in the House and Senate, we should pass your bill, we should say we’re not going to be funding stuff in communist China for goodness sake.” Marshall compared it to collaborating on nuclear research with Iran.

The World Health Organization’s Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens said in its first report this month that “it remains important to consider all reasonable scientific data … to evaluate the possibility of the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into the human population through a laboratory incident.”

The new SAGO report marked a departure from a March 2021 report, in which a WHO team sent to China said a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.” Meeting minutes from discussions between lab scientists and the WHO-China team reveal lab leak concerns were referred to as “conspiracy theories.”

“This is very, very likely a jumping species from an animal host, perhaps through an intermediate host, into a human species, which then spread throughout the human population, certainly, almost certainly, originating in China in Wuhan,” Fauci said during Senate testimony last week. “We still open up and keep always an open mind as to whether or not this had to do with a virus that was isolated in the environment and that came into a lab and then had what most people refer to as a lab leak. I believe that is less likely that that’s the case, but I also believe we need to keep an open mind and have all possibilities be investigated. But the evidence from the virology community points strongly towards a natural occurrence.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an assessment in the summer of 2021 stating that one U.S. intelligence agency assessed with “moderate confidence” that the virus most likely emerged from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan, while four U.S. spy agencies and the National Intelligence Council believe with “low confidence” that the virus most likely has a natural origin.

The Chinese government has publicly rejected the lab leak theory. “The lab leak theory is totally a lie concocted by anti-China forces for political purposes, which has nothing to do with science,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said this month. “We always supported and participated in science-based global virus tracing, but we firmly opposed any forms of political manipulation.”

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