Book alleges Fauci misled Trump on coronavirus gain-of-function research at lab in Wuhan

The author of a recently-released book claims that the country’s lead immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, mislead then-President Donald Trump regarding so-called “gain-of-function” research that his agency helped fund at a specialized lab in Wuhan, China, as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Fauci’s public persona as a cautious, careful medical professional is contradicted by his central role in kickstarting exceptionally fraught gain-of-function research in the United States after the ban introduced in the Obama era, along with his role in funding coronavirus research in China in unsafe laboratories,” Australian investigative journalist Sharri Markson writes in her new tome, “What Really Happened In Wuhan,” according to Fox News.

Released in late September, the book goes into detail about how Fauci, the long-serving head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, attempted to convince then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to sign off on the resumption of funding to a China-based research project that was being run by EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization. The group’s funding was suddenly cut off after about 10 years in which the organization helped fund a research project involving bats in China to help identify coronaviruses.

“Tony, you have to take it up with the boss. Meadows is the one making this call,” then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar reportedly told Fauci after he complained about the sudden cancellation of the funding, said excerpts of the book reviewed by Fox News.

Markson writes that the immunologist and current chief medical adviser to the Biden administration had “no qualms” meeting with Trump’s chief of staff to try and convince him to resume EcoHealth Alliance’s funding, “even though it was now public that this not-for-profit group had been funding the Wuhan laboratories conducting gain-of-function research on coronaviruses in the same city where the pandemic started.”

“Fauci declined to comment but sources familiar with his complaint say he mounted a case based on the lack of process, rather than any personal relationship with Daszak,” Markson writes in her book, making reference to the president of EcoHealth, Peter Daszak.

Then-President Barack Obama ordered a pause in federal funds for gain-of-function research in 2014 because it is considered extremely risky, but the National Institutes of Health lifted that ban in 2017 during Trump’s first year in office.

NIH Director Francis Collins entered into a collaboration agreement with the Chinese Academy of Military Science in 2015, the book notes while including a photo of him during that time posing with the president of the Chinese entity. Markson also writes that Collins emailed Fauci in April 2020 to say that all claims that COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan lab were part of a conspiracy.

“The email was titled ‘conspiracy gains momentum’ and it included a link to on-air comments by Fox News host Bret Baier that multiple sources had told him the virus may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory before accidentally escaping. Perhaps the leadership at the NIH viewed this as innocent international collaboration,” Markson writes.

“​​If so, this was naive. The United States was well aware of the inherent risks of the type of dual-use research in which Xi Jinping was engaging. It seemed the health, science and even defence community turned a blind eye to these grave national security and biosafety concerns, along with China’s blatant theft of American intellectual property,” she adds.

As for Fauci, he has been routinely grilled during congressional hearings, most notably from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), himself a physician, over the gain-of-function funding, which the NIAID director has denied and whom Paul has accused of lying to Congress.

Also, Markson writes in her book that Trump administration officials were stunned to learn that Fauci lifted the funding ban in 2017, and “they were even more astounded to discover he knew so much about the research in Wuhan, but never said a word as the pandemic unfolded.”

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff who attended all meetings as the pandemic began, “said Fauci did not once mention the gain-of-function research that his agency had funded at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Markson wrote.

“I do not recall him saying anything of the sort, and certainly not that he may have been involved with it,” Mulvaney told Markson. “I was surprised to recently learn of the connection. Honestly, I wish I had known about it, as it clearly would have registered as a possible source of bias in Fauci’s contributions to the debate.

“Put another way: I knew [Trump trade adviser Peter] Navarro hated the Chinese, so I knew to take his input on, say, the travel ban, with a grain of salt. I did not know of Fauci’s involvement in the research in China. That certainly would have impacted the weight we gave to some of his contributions,” he added.

Jon Dougherty

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