Hearing Wrap Up: Suppression of the Lab Leak Hypothesis Was Not Based in Science
WASHINGTON — The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing titled “Investigating the Proximal Origin of a Cover Up” to examine the potential conflicts of interest and suppression of scientific discourse by the National Institutes of Health surrounding the drafting, publication, and critical reception of the infamous “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” (Proximal Origin) correspondence. Select Subcommittee members asked Dr. Kristian Andersen and Dr. Robert Garry — co-authors of Proximal Origin — about their effort to skew scientific evidence to fulfill Dr. Fauci’s vision of a single narrative in support of a natural COVID-19 origin. Drs. Andersen and Garry testified to the political motivations for suppressing the lab leak hypothesis and detailed the lack of science available to support their declared conclusions. Members also questioned the witnesses about their inclination to protect the Chinese government and demanded accountability for the apparent disregard of the scientific process while drafting the paper. Information gained from this hearing will help the Select Subcommittee conduct further investigations into the unforced errors by the NIH during the COVID-19 pandemic — specifically the role Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins played in squashing scientific discourse during the pandemic.
Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) lead the Proximal Origin investigation with three potential reasons why the co-authors, aided by Drs. Fauci and Collins, argued in favor of a zoonotic COVID-19 origin theory.
Chairman Wenstrup: “We’re examining whether scientific integrity was disregarded in favor of political expediency – maybe to conceal or diminish the government’s relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology or its funding of risky gain of function coronavirus research. Or maybe to avoid blaming China for any complicity, intended or otherwise, in a pandemic that has killed more than one million Americans and has had a crushing effect on humankind itself.”
Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) grilled Proximal Origin co-author Dr. Kristian Andersen on the coordinated effort to protect the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese government from diplomatic repercussions by suppressing the lab leak hypothesis.
Chairman Comer: “Dr. Anderson, in your prepared testimony, you say that you’re being investigated because ‘published, peer reviewed studies that go against the preferred political narrative.’ Now, that goes opposite to what we have seen. The preferred political narrative has always been to attack those that think this may have come from a lab. Your co-author says on the poster right behind me what the real political narrative is. ‘Given the shit show that would happen if anyone serious accused the Chinese of even accidental release.’ Dr. Anderson, you responded to this message ‘Yep, I totally agree. That’s a very reasonable conclusion, although I hate when politics is injected into science, but it’s impossible not to, especially given the circumstance.’ Sir, do you have a degree in political science or international relations?”
Dr. Andersen: “I do not.”
Chairman Comer: “Do you have any experience in the Foreign Service or diplomatic corps?”
Dr. Andersen: “I do not.”
Chairman Comer: “Okay. Thank you. You were the one with the preferred political narrative. You said it right there. This preference was reiterated by Dr. Collins, saying that the lab leak theory would, quote, do great potential harm to science and international harmony.”
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) questioned why the co-authors of Proximal Origin suspiciously abandoned their initial belief that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab within three days of speaking to Dr. Fauci and Dr Collins on a conference call in February 2020.
Rep. Malliotakis: “But both you and Anderson, Garry also expressed concerns about the genetic makeup of the virus just days before the initial draft of this paper came out. So were you both conspiracy theorists at that time? On January 29, 2020, Dr. Fauci emailed you after you had expressed concerns to him on a phone call that you believed COVID would have been engineered.
“Then you reaffirmed those engineering concerns in an email to Dr. Fauci, which you say the unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome. And that after discussions earlier today, Eddie, Bob, Mike and myself all find the genome consistent with expectations from evolutionary theory. Again, were you a conspiracy theorist at that time and did you share these same concerns on the February 1st conference call? Because Dr. Garry went so far as to say, ‘I really can’t think of a plausible natural scenario when you get from the bat virus or one very similar to it…I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature.’ So then within a matter of days, something changed. And that’s what this committee is trying to get to the bottom of. What happened within that three day period between the conference call and the paper, that all of a sudden you did a 180?”
Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.) laid out the inaccurate assumptions and obvious inconsistencies cited by the co-authors of Proximal Origin in an attempt to the squash the lab-leak hypothesis.
Rep. McCormick: “To say that it’s just because it’s in the same area somewhere that a dog was found or a cat was found or whatever you want to say is for me, just like– smear some COVID on this wood and say, Look, it came from this wood. To give our people who are watching this, who are maybe not medical background to understand, that’s obviously impossible. Just like it’s impossible to have a virus that exists inside of an animal species go away and not have any sort of immune response or any propagation, if that’s where it came from in the beginning.
“And that’s where I find a huge hole in your theory as scientists. I love science. I’m trying to follow your science, and I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. It doesn’t matter if it’s found in the same area. Did it continue to live in that species? Is it still? I know for a fact China has looked for it hard and killed lots of animals trying to find it and cannot find this natural immune response and this natural propagation of a species. So therefore, my natural conclusion is it didn’t come from there.”
Rep. John Joyce (R-Pa.) compared the overwhelming amount of scientific and investigative evidence considered by various intelligence agencies, to the snap-judgements and inaccurate data relied upon by Dr. Kristian and his co-authors while drafting Proximal Origin.
Joyce: “Dr. Anderson, in your testimony, you said the recently declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence does, as you said, conclude that there is no evidence to suggest this virus came from the lab. However, the DNI also states in their reports the Department of Energy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assess that a laboratory associated incident was the most likely cause of the first human infection of SARS-CoV-2. Dr. Anderson, you also said in your testimony, we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible. And yet the conclusions by the Department of Energy and the FBI directly contradict your position. How do you bring that together?”
Andersen: “I think it’s important to understand that we are looking at different things here. You’re talking about the intelligence community. If you look at the scientific literature, the scientific evidence for this pointing to a single market in the middle of Wuhan is overwhelming that, you know…”
Joyce: “But the Intelligence committee had access to both scientific and the investigative reports. They had that overview and their conclusions strongly contradict what your single conclusion projects. And we as a committee have heard this repeatedly, that the overview from both the FBI and the Department of Energy support that there was a lab leak- support that the most likely cause of the first human infection of SARS-CoV-2 was a laboratory incident. We recognize how that occurred. We as a committee have formed what we feel is most important in understanding all the information that’s brought forward to us. And that information points directly to a lab leak.”
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Ga.) slammed Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins for exerting undue influence over the drafting and publication of Proximal Origin.
Rep. Jackson: “You completely changed your hypothesis. You collaborated with your coauthors and you wrote the Proximal Origins paper all in that period of time….I just want you to know that sounds completely ridiculous to the American people. And it’s completely in step with what a lot of people think is going on here, is that Dr. Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins realized that they had been implicated in the production or in the creation of this virus. And they were doing everything they could, including getting both of you to come on board as tools or vehicles to undermine that theory.”
###Published:Key TakeawaysMember HighlightsChairman ComerDr. AndersenChairman ComerDr. AndersenChairman ComerRep. Malliotakis: “Rep. McCormick:JoyceAndersenJoyceRep. Jackson