Fauci Commissioned Report To Dismiss Lab-Leak Theory, Emails Show

Energy Department and FBI say COVID virus likely emerged from Wuhan lab

Anthony Fauci holds up a document in March 2020 / Getty Images
March 6, 2023

Dr. Anthony Fauci commissioned a February 2020 research paper to dismiss the theory that the COVID-19 virus leaked from a Chinese laboratory, emails obtained by House Republicans show, a revelation that comes as multiple federal agencies voice support for the so-called lab-leak theory.

Fauci cited the paper, titled "The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2," during a White House press conference on April 17, 2020, during which he pretended to be unfamiliar with the authors. Yet he held a call with the four authors in February 2020 to discuss new evidence that the pandemic emerged from a leak at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology. The authors sent Fauci the paper, which claimed that COVID likely emerged from an animal-to-human infection, for edits before its publication, the New York Post reported.

"There was a study recently that we can make available to you, where a group of highly qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences … in bats as they evolve. And the mutations that [the COVID virus] took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human," Fauci said during the press conference.

He added that he did not "have the authors right now" but would get the paper to reporters.

News of the cover-up comes a week after the Energy Department concluded that the virus likely came from the Wuhan lab. The FBI also said it has long known the "most likely" origin for the coronavirus was the Chinese lab.

The revelations also place heightened scrutiny on the actions that Fauci, once the government's highest-paid employee, took during the pandemic.

Federal investigators in January issued a report calling out egregious errors by Fauci and his team in overseeing the bat research that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded through the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance. The nonprofit was responsible for coronavirus research in Wuhan.