Psaki calls Fauci ‘undeniable asset’ after Chinese lab leak emails

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday called Dr. Anthony Fauci “an undeniable asset” despite emails that have exposed his knowledge of and efforts to tamp down the Wuhan “lab leak” theory to explain the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin.

President Biden still has confidence in Fauci, who is his chief medical adviser and the government’s top infectious disease expert, Psaki said.

“He’s been an undeniable asset in our country’s pandemic response,” Psaki said at her daily press briefing.

“But it’s obviously not that advantageous for me to relitigate the substance of emails from 17 months ago.”

Psaki said, “The president and the administration feel that Dr. Fauci has played an incredible role and getting the pandemic under control and being a voice to the public throughout the course of this pandemic.”

The longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases previously came under fire for inconsistent public health guidance. For example, he did not promote mask-wearing in March and April 2020 as the respiratory virus spread in the US, despite the historical use of masks to counter airborne viruses and their successful early adoption in East Asia. But Fauci later pushed even wearing two masks at a time.

Biden last month ordered a 90-day review by US spy agencies of whether the virus could have emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology after facing weeks of pressure to pursue a robust US-led probe.

A preliminary World Health Organization study controlled by China this year concluded the virus likely emerged naturally.

The lab-release theory gained traction recently after the Wall Street Journal reported that three employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell so ill that they were hospitalized in November 2019 — just before the first reported COVID-19 cases.

The article cited “a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report.”

A subsequent US intelligence community statement released to the public said one US spy agency “leans more toward” the lab leak theory, but that two others lean toward the explanation that the virus emerged naturally in animals.

Fauci’s credibility was called into question this week when his work emails from last year — released to news outlets via the Freedom of Information Act — revealed his communications with the director of the Chinese CDC and with the leader of a nonprofit that contracted with the Wuhan lab.

The emails also revealed that a prominent researcher informed him in January 2020 that they believed the virus genome had signs of lab manipulation.

Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance, which used a $3.4 million US grant to do research at the Wuhan lab, wrote to Fauci in April 2020 that he was thankful that Fauci was publicly knocking the possibility of a lab leak.

“From my perspective, your comments are brave, and coming from your trusted voice, will help dispel the myths being spun around the virus’ origins,” Daszak wrote.

Fauci replied, “Many thanks for your kind note.”

But in January 2020, Fauci was warned by virus researcher Kristian Anderson of the Scripps Research lab in La Jolla, Calif., that COVID-19 had “unusual features.”

“The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered,” Andersen wrote.

In April 2020, Fauci emailed George Gao, head of the Chinese CDC, that “All is well despite some crazy people in this world.”

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