Fauci: I'd like to see the medical records for those three Wuhan scientists who needed hospital care in November 2019

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Yes, well, wouldn’t we all.

When did he decide that he’d like to see those medical records? Was it two weeks ago, when most of the world learned about those scientists from a Wall Street Journal story?

Or was it in January, when Trump’s State Department issued a fact sheet noting that “The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses”?

It’s curious that Fauci wasn’t pounding the table for more information about that until now, a moment when public interest in the lab-leak theory has exploded and he’s under scrutiny for some of the contents of his emails.

“I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019,” Fauci said. “Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?

“The same with the miners who got ill years ago . . . What do the medical records of those people say? Was there [a] virus in those people? What was it? It is entirely conceivable that the origins of Sars-Cov-2 was in that cave and either started spreading naturally or went through the lab.”…

David Asher, former head of the state department’s Covid-19 origins investigation, questioned why Fauci was only seeking the medical records now. He pointed out that the Trump administration said publicly in January that US intelligence believed the Wuhan scientists had fallen sick with symptoms of the virus.

“I’m stunned that Fauci would now ask this question,” said Asher, who is now at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington-based think-tank.

Why wasn’t Fauci asking for the records publicly sooner?

Maybe it’s a national security thing. Neither the Trump nor the Biden administration made a big to-do about the reports of scientists at the lab seeking hospital care in November 2019, possibly because the intelligence isn’t that solid, possibly because if they’re going to accuse China of having covered up a lab leak they need stronger evidence than “a few people needed treatment for something.” (Apparently most routine medical care in China is provided at hospitals so “hospital care” doesn’t necessarily mean that the scientists were seriously ill — or ill at all.) Either way, it wouldn’t be Fauci’s place to go over the White House’s head by revealing the information before the natsec team was comfortable with it.

But once the Trump/Pompeo State Department put it out there, it had been “revealed.” Fauci could have pointed to it as evidence that the lab-leak theory should be treated with newfound credulity, but didn’t. Maybe he feared that being “accusatory” towards China would be counterproductive in getting them to share information — although, in asking for the records now, he’s essentially making an accusation. Or maybe he feared that pushing the lab-leak theory would open up a “can of worms” that shouldn’t be opened. It would lead the public to scrutinize NIH’s grant money to EcoHealth Alliance; it might lead to a moratorium on certain kinds of viral research; it might expose that the lab-leak theory had been given short shrift intellectually by a profession woefully prone to groupthink and riddled with conflicts of interest.

Scott Gottlieb was asked this morning when he thought Fauci knew about the three Wuhan scientists. How could he have been so confident about a zoonotic origin for the virus if he had reason to believe at some point that techs at the Wuhan lab may have been sick around the time the virus emerged?

Noam Blum made a good point too. The Wuhan lab has insisted that no one in their office got sick before the city’s outbreak. Since when does Fauci not take them at their word?

When he was questioned yesterday in an interview about EcoHealth Alliance funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology, he argued that Chinese scientists were trusted partners. “We’re not talking about the Communist Chinese party. We’re not talking about the Chinese military. We’re talking about scientists that we’ve had relationships for years,” he said. It can’t be that the WIV is trustworthy enough to receive hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars via a middleman but not trustworthy enough that Fauci need to see the medical records of their staff to make sure they didn’t seed a global pandemic.

Biden was asked today if he still has confidence in Fauci. Answer: Of course.

The Fauci discourse has been so hyperpoliticized by this point that Biden wouldn’t cut him loose even if he wanted to. The more the right hates him and Trump attacks him, the more inclined liberals and media outlets will be to dismiss the criticisms as partisan posturing. (Axios has a story about right-wing upset at Fauci this week over his emails titled, “Trump’s new Hillary.”) “Targeting Fauci erodes trust in scientific institutions and makes them seem partisan – just as universities are increasingly seen as partisan, the media, the bureaucracy,” said one expert to Politico when asked about the outburst of criticism lately. That’s how the White House will necessarily see it too: If you have a problem with Fauci, you’re doing violence to Science.

Here’s a little more from Gottlieb, who still thinks a zoonotic origin for the virus is more likely but is by no means confident about that, which he says is worrisome.