"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. Laboratories that intelligence agencies suspect may have sparked the pandemic," Sharri Markson details in her new book, "What Really Happened In Wuhan."
The book was released late last month and details how Fauci tried to convince White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to return funding to a research project in China, which was run by a U.S. nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance. The funding to EcoHealth was suddenly terminated last year after a decade of the project studying bats in China to identify coronaviruses.
"Tony, you have to take it up with the boss. Meadows is the one making this call," former Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told Fauci, after the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases complained about the sudden termination of the funds, according to excerpts of the book reviewed by Fox News.
Fauci had "no qualms" meeting with Meadows to try to overturn the EcoHealth decision, "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," the book states, referring to the president of EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak.
Former President Barack Obama had paused federally-funded gain-of-function research in 2014, but the NIH lifted the ban in 2017.
NIH Director Francis Collins formalized collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Military Science in 2015, according to the book, and shared a photo that year of him with the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences President. The book notes that Collins emailed Fauci in April of 2020 saying any claims of a laboratory leak of the virus was 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," the book states.
"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."
Markson also spoke to Trump-era Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who did not name Fauci in his comments but made clear he blamed the NIH and other U.S. health officials for funding going to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
"What is clear to me is that the folks at NIH and the health professionals at the United States that were supervising these American researchers going to this lab also knew that this lab did not meet rigorous safety standards, the standards that we would hold an American laboratory to or a British or French or Australian or Japanese facility to," he said. "It seems like that raises an awful lot of questions about the absence of oversight and the risks that pertain to that."
The book also details that senior White House officials were shocked to learn that Fauci had lifted the ban on gain-of-function research back 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."
Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was present for all meetings during the early stages of the pandemic, "said Fauci did not once mention the gain-of-function research that his agency had funded at the Wuhan Institute of Virology," according to the book.
"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 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."
While Fauci did not tell top Trump administration officials about funding gain-of-function research, emails released through a FOIA request showed Fauci was concerned about the NIH funding such projects, the book states.
"Fauci was clearly concerned in the very earliest days of the outbreak that his agency had funded gain-of-function work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, maybe even funding the laboratory that caused the pandemic. He had cause to be extremely worried, given scientists were telling him Covid-19 may have been genetically altered," Markson writes.
Fauci has denied funding such research that creates new deadly viruses and was even grilled by Sen. Rand Paul about the funding over the summer.
"You take an animal virus and you increase its transmissibility to humans. You’re saying that’s not gain-of-function?" Paul asked Fauci during a Senate hearing July.
"That is correct, and Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially," Fauci responded.
Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, has also accused Fauci of lying about gain-of-function research, with the book saying that Fauci is essentially the "father of gain-of-function research," according to Ebright.
"No person on the planet has done more than Anthony Fauci to enable, expand and excuse gain-of-function research," Ebright said.
Fauci said Sunday on Fox News that he "can't think of anything" he did that would have contributed to the allegations and controversy over funding dangerous research at the Wuhan lab.