Till now, we were all under the impression that coronavirus had natural origins. It was believed that the virus was transmitted from a bat to a human in Wuhan, China. Maybe it’s time to reflect on that theory as a series of leaked emails sent by Dr. Anthony Fauci reveal something different. For the uninitiated, Dr. Fauci is the director of U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is also the chief medical advisor to the President and one of the most trusted authorities on the subject.
Presently, a few media organizations like Buzzfeed and CNN filed FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and obtained around 3,000 pages of email sent between key officials at the start of the pandemic. What do these emails say? Let’s find out.
The lab-leak theory
Zoologist Peter Daszak’s non-profit organization had funded some of Wuhan Institute of Virology’s efforts. When the lab-leak theory was floated, he obviously opposed it and his claims were backed by Dr. Fauci. “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,” he wrote in an email to Dr. Fauci.
On 31st January, Dr. Kristian Anderson (an immunologist) wrote to Dr. Fauci, “The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all of the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.” Dr. Fauci didn’t deny his theory and said that he’ll talk with him soon. You can read the full correspondence here.
After these emails, some people accused Dr. Fauci of covering up the lab-leak theory.
Dr. Fauci defends the leaked emails
In an interview with CNN this Thursday, Dr. Fauci denied these allegations. “You can misconstrue it however you want. That email was from a person to me saying 'thank you' for whatever it is he thought I said, and I said that I think the most likely origin is a jumping of species. I still do think it is, at the same time as I'm keeping an open mind that it might be a lab leak.”
Recently, he had also asked China to release the medical records of nine people from Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Urruda take
If the lab-leak theory has to be proved, China will need to co-operate with the rest of the world and that looks unlikely. For now, there is no conclusive proof about how the virus originated. We just know that it wreaked havoc on the entire world and more than 37 lakh people lost their lives. Not just that, it exposed the ugly truth about certain politicians who were extremely ill-prepared to tackle the pandemic.