It didn't take a rocket scientist to find out that in early 2020 that the coronavirus was going to become a heavily politicized issue in the presidential election. Many media outlets, as they are wont to do, have represented some people's extreme viewpoints regarding COVID-19, including microchip vaccination conspiracy theories to fears of humanity suffering another bubonic plague.
Now, leaked emails from NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci reveal that there may be something to what the "tin-foil hatters" were saying.
Dr. Fauci's email leak highlights a number of inconsistencies with his messaging.
BuzzFeed News published some 3,200 pages of Dr. Fauci's emails, which were made public due to the Freedom of Information Act. There are some key takeaways from Fauci's correspondence currently setting the internet abuzz.
Probably the most interesting is that there were messages exchanged between Fauci and NIAID deputy Hugh Auchincloss pertaining to "gain-of-function research on coronaviruses."
Fauci denies partaking in gain-of-function research, but his emails contain documentation regarding this practice.
Gain-of-function research is defined by News Medical Life Sciences as "the serial passaging of microorganisms to increase their transmissibility, virulence, immunogenicity, and host tropism by applying selective pressure to a culture."
In short, it's the practice of making diseases more deadly and easily communicable. If it sounds like something that would only come out of a mad scientist's lab, that's because it's a phenomenon associated with curbing bioterrorism.
The Australian reports that Fauci sent emails to Auchincloss with attached documents about gain-of-function research along with the message: "Hugh, it is essential that we speak this AM. … Read this paper. … You will have tasks today that must be done."
Auchincloss responded: "The paper you sent me says the experiments were performed before the gain-of-function pause but have since been reviewed and approved by (the U.S. National Institutes of Health). … Will try to determine if we have any distant ties to this work abroad."
Fauci says that while the NIH gave $600,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, he denied that those funds were used to support those gain-of-function experiments. "That categorically was not done," he said, per the New York Post.
In March of 2020, Fauci also wrote the director of China's Center for Disease Control, George Gao, following Donald Trump's blaming the nation for the COVID-19 outbreak.
Fauci wrote that there are "crazy people in this world" and that the U.S. and China would "get through this together." Gao then apologized for criticizing the United States for not promoting wearing masks, an issue Fauci reversed his position on early during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The emails also highlight other inconsistencies with the messaging surrounding COVID-19, namely the speculation it may have been man-made or "leaked" from a laboratory somehow. These theories were quashed by medical professionals and even Fauci himself, however, he then admitted he was "not convinced" that COVID-19 developed naturally.
Then there was the February 1, 2020, email sent to him from Scripps Institute virologist Kristian Andersen, who wrote that they had to "look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered."
Andersen, along with three other researchers went on to say that the COVID-19 strain contained a structure that was "inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory."
Later, Andersen would publish a paper that stated he didn't think "any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible" for COVID-19, despite telling Dr. Fauci almost the exact opposite.