‘Two world-renowned virologists appeared on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and delivered a pointed defense of their findings that the coronavirus pandemic was natural in origin, and told skeptical Republicans that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci did not exert influence over a scientific paper they wrote to that effect.
‘The paper is at the heart of Republicans’ unproven assertions that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Francis S. Collins, then the director of the National Institutes of Health, tried to tamp down the idea that a lab leak caused the pandemic. The virologists who testified, Kristian G. Andersen of Scripps Research and Robert F. Garry Jr. of Tulane University School of Medicine, were two of the paper’s five authors.
‘Republicans have used the emails to suggest that scientists studying the origins of the virus, after originally voicing the idea that it might have been engineered in a laboratory, changed their mind because of input from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins, including during a Feb. 1, 2020, conference call that included authors of the proximal origin study.
‘The scientists have said their views changed after days of intense work, which included studying features of the virus that were also identified in related coronaviruses in other species and consulting with virologists who had more experience studying coronaviruses.
‘Republicans have repeatedly asserted that Dr. Fauci convened the Feb. 1 call and pushed for publication of the paper as a way to quash public discussion of a possible lab leak. But Dr. Andersen and Dr. Garry both testified that Dr. Farrar had convened the call. And Dr. Andersen said Dr. Fauci had in fact encouraged the airing of any concerns about a lab leak.’