Former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Anthony Fauci returns from a break at a meeting where he is testifying before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in Washington on Jan. 8, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted during a 14-hour session of answering questions that he recommended vaccine requirements in schools and acknowledged that such mandates could increase the likelihood of people opting out of vaccination, according to lawmakers.
Dr. Fauci, 83, headed the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from 1984 to 2022 and helped come up with some of the COVID-19 pandemic policies like mandates and lockdowns. He was questioned in private on Jan. 9 by the U.S. Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in Washington.
While a transcript of the questioning has not yet been released, the panel said early Wednesday that Dr. Fauci told members he advised universities to force their students to get COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Fauci also “admitted that America’s vaccine mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic could increase vaccine hesitancy in the future,” the panel said in a summary of the second day of questioning.
He reportedly informed members that the infamous social distancing recommendations, which advised maintaining a six-foot distance in schools, businesses, and other places, were likely not based on data.
“It just sort of appeared,” Dr. Fauci was quoted as saying.
Dr. Fauci, who highlighted in a private email an op-ed critical of social distancing, did not respond to a request for comment sent to his employer, Georgetown University.
Many European nations, among other countries, had social distancing of three feet.
The subcommittee has said it will release a transcript of the questions and answers at some point in the future.
On the first day of questioning, Dr. Fauci repeatedly said he did not recall details when asked, Republicans said.
“Dr. Fauci’s transcribed interview revealed systemic failures in our public health system and shed light on serious procedural concerns with our public health authority,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee, said in a statement. “It is clear that dissenting opinions were often not considered or suppressed completely, Should a future pandemic arise, America’s response must be guided by scientific facts and conclusive data.
Dr. Wenstrup added: “While we remain frustrated with Dr. Fauci’s inability to recollect COVID-19 information that is important for our investigation, others we have spoken to do recall the facts. I appreciate Dr. Fauci’s willingness to testify privately in front of the select subcommittee and look forward to speaking with him further at a public hearing this year.”
Democrats on the panel accused Republicans of misrepresenting the testimony.
“The Republicans have totally distorted Dr. Fauci’s testimony, ongoing testimony, which will be available in a transcript,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) told reporters. “And I hope that that won’t take too long, because I think that will be very illuminating to you and to the public.”
Dr. Wenstrup said that a transcript would be made public “eventually” after it was reviewed by all parties.
Dr. Fauci, according to the panel, also told members that the idea that COVID-19 came from a laboratory is not a conspiracy theory.
He was grilled on his position on the origins of COVID-19 because for years he promoted the theory of a natural origin, even though to this day no animal host has been identified.
Dr. Fauci told reporters from the White House podium on April 17, 2020, that a new study featured “a group of highly qualified evolutionary virologists” who “looked at the sequences [in the virus] and the sequences in bats as they evolve.”
“And the mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human,” he added. “I don’t have the authors right now, but we can make that available to you.”
That paper involved five scientists detailing their view on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, saying in part that genomic data “clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”
Dr. Fauci is not mentioned in the paper but he along with his then-boss, Dr. Francis Collins, prompted its drafting, according to an email from Kristian Andersen, one of the authors, obtained by the subcommittee.
“Our main work over the last couple of weeks has been focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory,” Mr. Andersen said in another missive.
Previously released emails show that both Drs. Fauci and Collins were asked for, and provided, feedback on earlier drafts of the paper.
Mr. Andersen and others later received an increase in grants from Dr. Fauci’s agency, an Epoch Times review found.
An email published in 2023 revealed that Dr. David Morens, a deputy of Dr. Fauci, said Dr. Fauci had suddenly given him approval to discuss the origins of COVID-19 with National Geographic.
“I interpret this to mean that our government is lightening up but that Tony doesn’t want his fingerprints on origin stories,” he wrote.
Many experts, including analysts at the FBI, now consider the origins either an open question or say the available evidence shows it came from a lab.
Joseph Lord contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times