Fauci emails spark flood of backlash: ‘Needs to stop playing games’

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Sens. Rand Paul and Tom Cotton, two of Fauci’s harshest critics, leading criticism over emails

A trove of recently released emails to and from top government epidemiologist Anthony Fauci is sparking fierce backlash against him from some Republicans, particularly among those who are harshly critical of his comments on mask-wearing, the potential that the coronavirus leaked from a lab the U.S. gave money to, and more. 

The emails were obtained first by BuzzFeed via a Freedom of Information Act request. 

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has been among Fauci’s harshest critics for months, led reaction Tuesday morning 

“It seems like he was very troubled early on that there was gain of function. He’s like ‘What, is gain of function still going on? I thought we paused it.’

He seemed unclear about whether or not the gain-of-function research, how it got started again in Wuhan,” Paul said on the “Tom Roten Morning Show Wednesday. “And I think he was very concerned – although he doesn’t say it in the email – concerned that he continued to fund it through NIH even though there weren’t doing gain of function.”

“This is the thing that once people know this, this is explosive – that he knew about the gain of function and he’s trying to cover it up,” Paul added.

Paul was referencing one email exchange between Fauci and his deputy, Hugh Auchincloss. 

“Hugh: It is essential that we speak this AM. Keep your cell phone on. I have a conference call at 7:45 AM with Azar. It likely will be over at 8:45 AM. Read this paper as well as the e-mail that I will forward to you now. You will have tasks today that must be done,” Fauci wrote in one of the emails BuzzFeed obtained and published. 

“The paper you sent me says the experiments were performed before the gain of function pause but have since been reviewed and approved by NIH,” Auchincloss said in an email to Fauci. “Not sure what that means since Emily is sure that no Coronavirus work has gone through the P3 framework. She will try to determine if we have any distant ties to this work abroad.”

“There’s also these email exchanges with this guy Peter Daszak, who was the actual funder,” Paul continued.

Paul was referencing Daszak’s organization EcoHealth, which received millions in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including a $600,000 grant from Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) that it later paid to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study the risk that bat coronaviruses could infect humans.

Fauci defended the grant in a recent congressional hearing, saying its purpose “was to study the animal-human interface, to do surveillance and to determine if these bat viruses were even capable of” infecting humans. 

Fauci also cited comments from Francis Collins, the director of NIH, who said earlier in the hearing that the American taxpayer money that went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was not approved to conduct gain of function research, which is research that involves modifying a virus to make it more infectious among humans.

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Nevertheless, Collins said the NIH would not be aware of other activities at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“When they call for an investigation, who do they put in charge of it but this Peter Daszak, who’s buddies with Fauci, who’s thanking him privately in emails for covering up the Wuhan leak. So it’s all so incestuous,” Paul added. 

In one email released by BuzzFeed, Daszak thanked Fauci for pouring cold water on the lab leak theory. Daszak was a member of a World Health Organization team that visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology as part of an investigation earlier this year into the virus’ origins that’s been widely panned as lacking transparency, even by the White House.

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