Covid: White House defends Dr Fauci over lab leak emails

Dr Fauci has been the face of the nation’s Covid-19 response. But emails have raised questions on whether he backed Chinese denials of the theory that Covid-19 leaked from a lab. A trove of Dr Fauci’s emails covering the onset of the coronavirus outbreak were released this week to media under a freedom of information request. Chinese authorities linked early Covid-19 cases to a seafood market in Wuhan. But recent US media reports have suggested growing evidence the virus could instead have emerged from a lab in Wuhan, perhaps through an accidental leak. The NIH, which is a US public health agency, gave $600,000 (Ł425,000) to the Wuhan Institute of Virology from 2014-19 via a grant to the New York-based non-profit group EcoHealth Alliance, for the purpose of researching bat coronaviruses. Peter Daszak, head of EcoHealth Alliance, emailed Dr Fauci in April 2020, praising him as “brave” for seeking to debunk the lab leak theory. Department of State officials … were told not to explore claims about gain-of-function experiments at the Wuhan lab to avoid attracting unwelcome attention to US government funding of such research. Gain-of-function studies involve altering pathogens to make them more transmissible in order to learn more about how they might mutate. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that three employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill and were admitted to hospital in November 2019, just before the first reported Covid-19 cases.

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