Fauci should drop the mask on Wuhan

While our masks come off, Dr. Anthony Fauci still wears his mask of secrecy – one that cloaks the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ response to COVID-19. The time for an honest discussion regarding Dr. Fauci’s leadership and actions during the pandemic is long overdue.

Scientists have learned a great deal about the coronavirus, including how it transmits and attacks the body and crucially, how to treat patients and create seemingly effective vaccines. However, scientists are requesting more information that they say is necessary to determine how COVID-19 originated and became a pandemic in order to develop strategies to prevent such a pandemic from ever again visiting such destruction upon humanity. But to this day, Dr. Fauci and NIAID have steadfastly refused to release documents that would help answer this and many other important questions. 

Over the past year, Judicial Watch has bird-dogged Dr. Fauci’s records through the Freedom of Information Act. And when FOIA requests were ignored, Judicial Watch filed lawsuits compelling NIAID to comply. Although the agency continues its unprecedented stonewalling, it has released at least some documents, some of which are deeply troubling. In one instance, Dr. Fauci approved a press release that was specifically designed to praise China’s initial response to the coronavirus. In an even more troubling case, officials from the NIH tailored confidentiality forms to China’s terms, and the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an unreleased, “strictly confidential” COVID-19 epidemiological analysis in January 2020.

These records reveal an agency so focused on global politics (protecting China) that urgent concerns about the coronavirus and about the Chinese government’s opaque conduct often took a back seat. As Dr. Fauci and his legal team of government lawyers slow roll the release of these key documents it is fair to ask what else is hiding in records that they defiantly refuse to yield.

We won’t know the answer to that question until Dr. Fauci and the federal government complies with our FOIA lawsuit and other public demands for information about what happened in the Wuhan, China, epicenter of the global pandemic. One theory holds that the virus jumped from bats to humans, sparking the pandemic. The medical science community also holds accidental release from a laboratory to be feasible theory, and which World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said needs to be further investigated.

The American people deserve to know more about whether taxpayer dollars were channeled to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, notably near the “ground zero” market for the COVID-19 outbreak. What American officials specifically knew about the experiments taking place in that lab has yet to be established. 

There is no question Dr. Fauci’s NIAID gave a grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit that funded research at the WIV involving bats. Yet Dr. Fauci made a carefully worded  denial of any connection between his agency and the WIV in a recent congressional hearing, stating, “With all due respect, you are entirely, completely incorrect,” adding that his NIAID and its parent National Institute of Health “has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” Questioned about a 2015 NIH-funded study by University of North Carolina virologist Dr. Ralph Baric that reportedly created “lab-made coronavirus related to SARS,” Dr. Fauci responded, “Dr. Baric is not doing gain-of-function research, and if it is, it is according to the guidelines, and it is being conducted in North Carolina, not in China.” Our simple response to Dr. Fauci is: Show us the documents.

We don’t expect the totalitarian communists who run the Chinese government to come clean, but American federal officials have a moral obligation, in the least, to tell the American people the full truth and to stop the stonewalling. 

A basic American principle holds that even our highest officials work for the people and are not above the law. More than 587,000 Americans died in this pandemic. The country has suffered illness, economic calamity and disrupted lives. Having paid such a terrible price, the nation urgently needs to know the whole truth, and Dr. Fauci needs to stop with the prevarications and secrecy on his agency’s potential role in creating this crisis.

• Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog organization. 

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