Fauci called before House subcommittee to testify on COVID-19 origins

 Fauci called before House subcommittee to testify on COVID-19 origins

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was called before a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on Monday to testify about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, lawmakers questioned Fauci on whether his agency was involved in an email coverup to hide the theory that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China.

The United States’ former top infectious disease expert strongly denied suppressing the theory that COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in testimony before the House Oversight and Accountability Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Fauci said he believes the most likely origin of the pandemic was animal-to-human transmission but he had an open mind as to the lab theory.

“I’ve also been very, very clear, and said multiple times, that I don’t think the concept of there being a lab (leak) is inherently a conspiracy theory,” he said, according to Reuters. “What is conspiracy is the kind of distortions of that particular subject, like it was a lab leak, and I was parachuted into the CIA like Jason Bourne and told the CIA that they should really not be talking about a lab leak.” 


At issue were emails showing officials tried to hide public records by evading Freedom of Information Act requests.

The private emails include NIAID Senior Advisor to the Director David Morens, who allegedly deleted correspondence and used private emails to get around the FOIA requests.

Fauci downplayed how closely he worked with Morens and denied using a private email address to discuss government business. 

Morens had told the subcommittee he may have sent emails discussing government business to Fauci’s personal email address, according to Reuters.

Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va. said it sounded like NIAID was involved in some form of conspiracy. Allegations reveal Morens and other frequently evaded FOIA laws to a scale that “surprised even me,” Griffith said. These were trusted staff who worked with Fauci for decades, he said.

“Morens directly implicates you,” Griffith told Fauci, “It is hard to believe that all of this occurred without your knowledge and/or approval.”

Others, such as Ranking Member Rep. Dr. Paul Ruiz, D-Ca. defended Fauci, saying there’s been no proof of this narrative. 

In a statement to the committee, Fauci said, “The first issue concerns my actions regarding the possibility that SARS-COV-2 might’ve resulted from a lab leak. On January 11, 2020, I was informed in phone calls from Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust in the UK and with Kristian Andersen, a highly regarded scientist at Scripps Research Institute, that they and Eddie Holmes, (professor and expert in infectious diseases) … (had) concerns that the genomic sequence of SARS-COV-2 suggested the virus could have been manipulated in the lab.

“I participated in the conference call the next day with about a dozen international virologists to discuss this possibility versus the spillover from an animal reservoir. The discussion was lively with arguments with both possibilities. Two participants have testified before this subcommittee that I did not try to steer the conversation in any direction. It was decided that several participants would more carefully examine the sequence. After this further examination, several, who at first were concerned about lab manipulation, became convinced that the virus was not deliberately manipulated. They concluded that the most likely scenario was a spillover from an animal reservoir, although they still kept an open mind.”


Dr. Anthony Fauci defended the federal government’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fauci retired in December 2022, after working as director of NIAID for more than 30 years.

Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org

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Fallon Wolken

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