Thousands of pages of emails exchanged by US infectious diseases czar Anthony Fauci have fanned the flames of the lab leak origin theory of the novel coronavirus. Now out in the public domain, they have given rise to claims on social media that the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) was part of efforts to cover up the tracks that probably lead to the doors of the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the site from where the virus emerged. However, this version of events remains in the realm of speculation with conclusive evidence yet to be found to support it. Fauci for his part, has called for a deeper probe into the origins of the pandemic.
How Did Fauci’s Official Mail Come Out?
The emails were not really leaked, but their redacted versions were obtained by US-based media outlets The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News via Freedom of Information Act requests. Both outlets published the information they received on June 1. The emails, all from last year, cover the early day of the pandemic and give an insight into how Fauci went about dealing with an unfolding crisis.
According to factcheck.org, the separate tranches of mails obtained by the two media outlets date more or less to the January-June 2020 period. BuzzFeed News has put out all the 3,234 pages of emails it received on a separate site.
What Do They Say About Lab Leak?
Proponents of the theory that the novel coronavirus came out of the Wuhan lab situated on the outskirts of the city where the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in December 2019 point to a specific email exchange between Fauci and a virologist associated with the Scripps Research Institute in California.
On January 31, 2020, Kristian Andersen, the Scripps researcher, wrote to Fauci that, “The unusual features of the virus (Sars-CoV-2) make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all of the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered”.