Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Capitol Hill on Nov. 4, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Andrew Mark Miller | Fox News
Special Report obtained documents showing what was happening behind the scenes in the early days of the pandemic
Fresh questions are being raised about what American scientists and federal health officials knew about the origins of the coronavirus and whether conflicting evidence was suppressed and hidden from the public.
On Tuesday night’s episode of Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News dove into the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and explored documents obtained showing that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was warned early on that the virus may have originated in a Wuhan, China lab.
According to the timeline of events laid out by Baier, Fauci was told on January 27, 2020 that his NIAID had been indirectly funding the Wuhan lab through EcoHealth– a US-based scientific non-profit that had been working with novel coronaviruses.
On January 31, Dr. Kristian Andersen, a noted virologist at the Scripps Lab, privately told Fauci that after discussion with his colleagues some of COVID-19’s features look possibly engineered and the “genome is inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.”
Andersen added that the situation needed to be looked at more closely, at which point Fauci organized an all hands on deck conference call with colleagues where he was told that risky experiments with the novel coronavirus may not have gone through proper biosafety review and oversight.
Hours later, Fauci hastily organized a call with dozens of worldwide virologists, and notes from the meeting obtained by Special Report reveal that suspicions of the lab leak theory were suppressed over concerns of how the public would react to news of possible Chinese government involvement.
In the meeting, fears were raised by then-National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins that “science and international harmony” could be harmed and accusations of China’s involvement could distract top researchers.
Another scientist in the meeting dismissed the possibility that the virus jumped from a bat to a person in nature and pointed out that the virus could be generated in a lab much easier.
Fauci and others in the meeting pointed to evidence that the virus originated in a seafood and wild animal market in Wuhan, which was complicated by the market being shut down and scrubbed clean by Chinese authorities.
A consensus was reached in the call that the lab origin should not be mentioned in a paper because it will add “fuel to the conspiracists,” and Collins appeared convinced that natural origin of the virus was “more likely.”
Francis Collins, director, National Institutes of Health, speaks at the Milken Institute 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, April 30, 2018. (Reuters/Mike Blake)
Just four days later, five researchers who were on the call authored preliminary findings abandoning their early private beliefs that the virus was likely the result of a lab leak.
It is unclear what new evidence prompted the reversal of opinion, but private communications show that various drafts were sent to Fauci and Collins for approval.
The first public draft was published on February 16 but failed to tamp down theories that the virus originated in a lab.
Over the next few months, Fauci and Collins worked behind the scenes to squash the lab leak theory and communicated to each other the day after President Trump declined to dismiss the wet market theory, discussing “something NIH can do to help put down this very destructive conspiracy.”
The email from Collins to Fauci contains a link to a Special Report segment on the issue, and Fauci urged Collins to ignore the story, referring to it as a “shiny object that will go away.”