Fauci claim debunked

Dear Editor:

Now that the election is over, I’d like to direct attention to a letter submitted by “Outdoors in Maine” columnist V. Paul Reynolds back on June 4. Mr. Reynolds suggested that a story originally published in an English newspaper was being suppressed for reporting that Dr. Fauci, as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave a “$3.7 million grant for the study of gain-of-function research at the now-infamous viral experimental lab in Wuhan, China!” — his exclamation point. Reynolds goes on to suggest that Dr. Fauci did an end-run around the rules and outsourced dangerous research to China on our tax dollar. Reynolds ends his letter by questioning whether the COVID-19 pandemic was triggered by a “horrendous scientific miscalculation” and that Dr. Fauci may be unwittingly complicit in the spread of the virus. He closes by saying, “Sooner or later the story will be told in the United States. It is just too astonishing and far reaching to be suppressed or ignored.”

Doing a bit of my own research, I noticed that the story was primarily covered by conservative and anti-vaccination websites, the “English newspaper” was a tabloid not known for in-depth reporting, and that conspiracy purveyor Rudy Giuliani raised the issue in a tweet on April 26 suggesting that President Obama may have granted an exception for this prohibited grant. Interestingly, in his letter, Reynolds complains that “the COVID-19 news reportage seems to be hoving to partisan lines” — and then gets into the act himself!

This story was neither suppressed nor ignored — it was simply misreported. The United States did not give $3.7 million to a lab in Wuhan, China. The actual amount was just under $600,000, and it was permitted. The grant did not fund “gain-of-function” research. Within days of Giuliani’s tweet, the story had been checked out and found to be false. There’s still no evidence that the virus had anything other than a natural zoonotic (non-human to human) origin. But in the current politicized atmosphere where common sense measures to protect public health are being questioned and medical experts are suspected of promoting policies specifically to hurt our economy, it’s not surprising that specious claims and groundless doubts continue to be kept alive by those with a political ax to grind.

Christopher Loekle

Deer Isle

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