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President Biden on Friday said that he’s “very confident” in his chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, despite the release of emails that exposed his knowledge of and efforts to tamp down the Wuhan “lab leak” theory to explain the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin.
“Yes, I’m very confident in Dr. Fauci,” Biden told reporters as he departed Rehoboth Beach, Del., to return to the White House.
In a show of support for Fauci, the White House also announced on Friday that he and first lady Jill Biden will visit Harlem on Sunday to promote a vaccination clinic at Abyssinian Baptist Church.
The longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is under fire after reporting this week on an email trove acquired by news outlets using the Freedom of Information Act.
The emails revealed Fauci’s communications with the director of the Chinese CDC and with the leader of a nonprofit that contracted with the Wuhan lab, and they also revealed that a prominent researcher informed him in January 2020 that they believed the virus genome had signs of lab manipulation.
Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance, which used a $3.4 million US grant to do research at the Wuhan lab, wrote to Fauci in April 2020 that he was thankful that Fauci was publicly knocking the possibility of a lab leak.
“From my perspective, your comments are brave, and coming from your trusted voice, will help dispel the myths being spun around the virus’ origins,” Daszak wrote.
Fauci replied, “Many thanks for your kind note.”
But in January 2020, Fauci was warned by virus researcher Kristian Anderson of the Scripps Research lab in La Jolla, Calif., that COVID-19 had “unusual features.”
“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 the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered,” Andersen wrote.
In April 2020, Fauci emailed George Gao, head of the Chinese CDC, that “All is well despite some crazy people in this world.”
Fauci previously came under fire for inconsistent public health guidance. For example, he did not promote mask-wearing in February, March and early April 2020 as the respiratory virus spread in the US, despite the historical use of masks to counter airborne viruses and their successful early adoption in East Asia. But Fauci later pushed even wearing two masks at a time.
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