On June 2, 2021, Facebook user, anti-vaxxer Koba Kuprashvili uploaded a video address regarding the disclosure of emails from Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Kuprashvili claims that Fauci’s emails obtained by hackers finally confirm the artificial origin of the coronavirus, while in one of the emails, Fauci himself describes the rule of creation of the novel coronavirus from SARS-cov-1 and HIV virus.
Other Facebook users also focused on the same issue following the disclosure of Fauci’s emails. On June 3, Zviad Gogiashvili published a post and a video address, where he speaks about the message that came to Fauci from Adam Gaertner on March 11, 2020. Zviad Gogiashvili claims that one of the scientists provides a detailed instruction on how to create the coronavirus; thus, the email proves artificial origin of the pandemic. In his video address, Gogiashvili notes that the pandemic was plotted to seize power from Donald Trump. Gogiashvili’s post was later shared by Facebook account Ti-Nia Dia.
According to the post published by Shore Shanidze on June 3 and June 4, Anthony Fauci lied about the efficiency of face masks, because in an email sent to Sylvia Burwell on February 5, 2020, he admits that surgical masks do not protect healthy people from acquiring infection. The same email was referred to by Soso Manjavidze, Misho Otiashvili, Facebook page დედაქალაქი (Capital) and Beka Vardosanidze who spread several posts about “the lie” related to face masks.
Beka Vardosanidze notes in his live video on June 6, 2021 that Anthony Fauci delivered Plaquenil to the Chinese who used it to create a vaccine before the pandemic, because Plaquenil is very effective against the virus.
The posts spread by Georgian Facebook users based on the disclosed official emails from Anthony Fauci are manipulative and taken out of context. Fauci’s emails contain no evidence to prove the artificial origin of the coronavirus, while the claim as if Fauci “deceived the entire world” about face masks is manipulative. In addition, the emails contain no additional information about the efficacy of Plaquenil that might differ from Fauci’s official position.
On June 1,2020, U.S. media outlets Buzzfeed and Washington Post published Fauci’s official correspondence obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. More than 3,200 pages of emails cover the period from January to June 2020. In addition, some fragments containing confidential information are entirely blacked out. A great part of emails covers the issues of planning various meetings. Some of them contain Fauci’s answers to the coronavirus-related questions. Following the disclosure of the emails, special attention was focused on several letters between Fauci and his colleagues about face masks, the origin of the coronavirus and hydroxychloroquine, a medication sold under the brand name Plaquenil.
• Fauci’s emails contain no evidence to prove the artificial origin of the coronavirus
Anthony Fauci’s correspondence contains several emails dated January 2020, when the scientists were still studying the virus and no common position regarding its origin backed up by factual data was available. One of the emails referred to by Zviad Gogiashvili and Koba Kuprashvili was sent to Fauci by Adam Gaertner, a self-described independent researcher, on February 1, 2020. Gaertner writes in the email that the novel coronavirus was created through the fusion of SARS-cov-1 and HIV virus. The text of Gaertner’s email was taken word-for-word from a 2005 paper (page 2) by a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, which is not about the novel coronavirus but rather about SARS-cov-1 infectivity.
The fragment about the fusion of SARS-cov-1 with HIV virus is provided in the methodological part of infectivity research. However, this fragment taken alone cannot prove that the novel coronavirus was created in a lab using the methodology of the 2005 paper. Gaertner himself was not involved in the study. Neither does he offer factual evidence in his email, while the disclosed correspondence does not show whether Anthony Fauci responded to the email, shared Gaertner’s position or mentioned it in his further correspondence with other colleagues.
Another email concerning the artificial origin of the novel coronavirus was sent to Fauci by Scripps Research biologist Kristian Andersen on January 31, 2020. Andersen informs Fauci that “the unusual features” of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%). So, “one has to look really closely at all of the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.” In the end of the email, he writes that there are still further analyses to be done, so those opinions could still change.
On March 17, 2020, Andersen and his research team published comparative analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomic data. The analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus. Following the disclosure of the emails, Andersen made an explanation on his Twitter page, noting that at the onset of the pandemic, all theories, including those related to artificial origin of the virus, were discussed. “What the email shows is a clear example of the scientific process,” he wrote.
It is noteworthy that from March 2020 to May 2021, Fauci and American scientists had an unambiguous position regarding the origin of the novel coronavirus and due to the lack of arguments backing the theory of artificial origin and “lab leak,” they were in favor of the opinion that it originated naturally. However, on May 27, 2021, President Joe Biden ordered investigation into the virus origin. According to the U.S. intelligence, there is some evidence backing the theory of “a lab leak.” However, despite the revision of positions, exact origin of the coronavirus is still unspecified and the claim as if Fauci’s emails finally confirmed the artificial origin of the virus is false.
Speaking at a conference organized by PolitiFact on May 11, Anthony Fauci noted that he was not convinced the virus originated naturally, adding that the investigation should be continued until they found out exactly what happened in China.
Anthony Fauci: “Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I am perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.”
- The claim as if Anthony Fauci “deceived the entire world” about face masks is manipulative
The posts related to “Fauci’s lie” about face masks are based on the email sent by Anthony Fauci to Sylvia Burwell on February 5, 2020, where Fauci answers Burwell’s questions about wearing a face mask. Fauci tells Burwell that “masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection.” However, any reference to Fauci’s “lie” is manipulative, because Fauci’s recommendation given to Burwell did not differ from official recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the moment of writing the email. At the onset of the pandemic, CDC recommended health care workers only to wear masks. But on April 3, 2020, the CDC began urging people to wear masks in public. The position changed as more information became available about the way COVID-19 spreads and the effectiveness of masks outside of hospitals. According to new studies and scientific evidence, masks might be able to reduce transmission by capturing the larger droplets infected people spew.
See detailed information in Myth Detector’s article: Do Wearing Face Masks Protect Us from COVID-19?
- The information as if Fauci lied about the efficacy of Plaquenil and China used it to create a vaccine before the pandemic lacks evidence
Following the disclosure of the emails, Trump’s supporters started to actively share to social media networks a screenshot of the email dated February 29, 2020 received by Fauci and former Vice President Mike Pence from an unidentified source. In the email, two doctors called on Fauci to fund the studies on Plaquenil’s efficacy. In response, Fauci sent the email to one of his colleagues, asking to handle it.
On February 24, 2020, a representative of the U.S Food and Drug Administration also sent an email to Fauci regarding Plaquenil’s efficacy. Fauci answered that there are no data that would confirm the efficacy of the new medicine against the novel coronavirus. He, however, added that “there are a lot of these types of claims going around and I would love to see their data.”
In March 2020, the U.S Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization for use of hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and a small government-funded clinical trial was really conducted to evaluate its efficacy. The study, however, failed to prove Plaquenil’s efficacy and its use for medical purposes was suspended.
The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.