Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent letters to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and former National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins about their apparent attempts to suppress scientific debate and information about the origins of COVID-19 and how such efforts may have influenced the advice they gave the White House and policymakers in the early days of the pandemic.
The leaders’ concerns arise from recently disclosed emails between virology experts and Drs. Fauci and Collins at the beginning of the pandemic. In the emails, the virology experts suggested it was likely COVID-19 came from a lab and Drs. Fauci and Collins appear to silence those concerns.
LETTER EXCERPT: “Recently disclosed emails revealed that in January 2020, virology experts told you and Dr. Francis Collins, who at the time led the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that they believed COVID-19 had lab-made features and that the virus may have escaped from a lab. However, those same email communications, particularly when viewed in light of other publicly available information, demonstrate an apparent effort by you and Dr. Collins not only to cover-up the concerns those virologists raised, but to suppress scientific debate about the origins of COVID-19. It appears you and Dr. Collins may have done so to protect China and avoid criticism about incredibly risky research that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) was funding at the Wuhan lab.”
“Instead of alerting national security experts to the potential threat that scientists were questioning the origin of the SARS2 virus, you shut down debate about the COVID-19 origin. We are deeply concerned that your decision to suppress highly relevant information when you received the early alert that the SARS2 virus could be a potential threat. As the manager of NIAID’s multibillion dollar biodefense program and as an advocate for global sampling and surveillance to detect potential pandemics, when the alert was in your hands, you remained silent and worse, propagated a counter narrative that may have hurt our government’s response in the early days of the pandemic.
“We oversee public health and are seeking the truth about how this pandemic started so we can better prepare and hopefully prevent future pandemics. We have significant concerns that your conduct, which appears to have been designed to protect China and, in furtherance of that, to suppress certain scientific information, occurred at a time when it was critical for government leaders and decisionmakers to be aware of all relevant information and may have hurt our COVID-19 response.”
The leaders ask Drs. Fauci and Collins to respond by February 28, 2022 to multiple questions, including:
- Regarding your January 2020 communications with the virology experts referenced above:
- When were these communications initiated? Please identify all parties to these communications and the specific subject matters addressed in these communications.
- What was the purpose for your communications with these virology experts?
- Did you brief anyone at the White House, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or anyone else involved in the COVID-19 response about the communications with the virology experts?
- If you did, please identify who you notified, when you notified them, and what information you provided to them.
- If you did not, why did you withhold such relevant information?
- To what extent did preserving international harmony (especially with China) affect your advice to the White House, HHS, or anyone else involved in the COVID-19 response?
In addition to written responses to the above questions, the Leaders also request Dr. Fauci take the following actions:
- Please direct NIH staff to produce all of your emails in unredacted form.
- Please direct NIAID staff to produce all documents related to the EcoHealth Alliance grant R01AI110964.
- Please direct that NIAID officials Dr. Ping Chen and Dr. Erik Stemmy be made available for a briefing to answer questions from bipartisan committee staff.
- Please direct that any other NIAID subject matter experts be made available to answers questions from bipartisan committee staff.
- Please direct NIAID staff to provide written responses to the questions in our unanswered letters.
- Please direct the NIH to provide any documents or information already provided to other congressional committees or individual members of Congress related to EcoHealth Alliance grants and/or origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CLICK HERE to read the letter to Dr. Fauci.
CLICK HERE to read the letter to Dr. Collins.