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Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before House panel over COVID-19 origins, pandemic response

Republicans are criticizing Fauci's response to the pandemic and questioning whether COVID-19 arose naturally or if U.S.-funded lab research in China could have been responsible for the outbreak.
Fauci House Committee
Posted at 12:13 PM, Jun 03, 2024

In his first public appearance on Capitol Hill in nearly two years, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before a Republican-led House panel Monday over the possible origins of COVID-19 and alleged misconduct under his leadership throughout the pandemic.

Fauci, 82, became a household name during the pandemic as the nation's top infectious disease expert but retired in December 2022 after a five-decade career with the National Institutes of Health. However, Republicans have continued to criticize his response to the pandemic and questioned whether COVID-19 arose naturally or if U.S.-funded lab research in China could have been responsible for the outbreak.

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In his opening statement Monday, Fauci said he's always been open to both theories but vehemently denied ever trying to influence investigations into the virus' true origins.

"Several [international virologists], who at first were concerned about lab-manipulation, became convinced that the virus was not deliberately manipulated," Fauci said. "They concluded that the most likely scenario was a spill-over from an animal reservoir, although they still kept an open mind. They appropriately published their opinion in the peer-reviewed literature."

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"The accusation being circulated that I influenced these scientists to change their minds by bribing them with millions of dollars in grant money is absolutely false and simply preposterous," Fauci added. "I had no input into the content of the published paper."

The Republican-led subcommittee also grilled Fauci with questions regarding contentious issues like social distancing during the pandemic, face mask recommendations, vaccine recommendations, and more. At one point, things got heated when GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene refused to refer to Fauci as a medical doctor.

"That man does not deserve to have a license," she said. "As a matter of fact it should be revoked and he belongs in prison."

In contrast, Democrats on the committee have used most of their speaking time defending Fauci and his approach to public safety. Rep. Jamie Raskin, who is the ranking member of the overall House Oversight Committee, asked Fauci if there was any reason for him to attempt to cover-up the true origins of the COVID-19 virus.

"Absolutely not," Fauci replied. "And that's the reason why it was important to get people together to discuss this in a transparent way."