Dr. Anthony Fauci’s presence in Washington on January 8 marked the commencement of a two-day closed-door interrogation by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. The 83-year-old, renowned for his pivotal role in shaping the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, faced a rigorous session of questioning under oath—a departure from his last testimony in November 2022. Dr. Fauci’s agreement to participate in the seven-hour session was conditional on the presence of two personal lawyers and two government lawyers, a decision announced by the panel in late 2023.
The committee’s focus encompasses a spectrum of contentious topics, including Dr. Fauci’s evolution on mask policies, funding controversies surrounding risky research in China, and the alleged downplaying of post-infection immunity. Members plan to delve into the intricate details of Dr. Fauci’s involvement in a publication that played down the lab leak theory emanating from Wuhan, China, and scrutinize his agency’s financial support to the Wuhan lab through a nonprofit. Additionally, questions will be raised about Dr. Fauci’s communications with other high-ranking government officials regarding the origins of COVID-19.
Of particular interest is the examination of Dr. Fauci’s promotion of the “Proximal Origins” paper, where he touted its findings without disclosing his own involvement. The paper aimed to debunk the theory that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan laboratory, a contention that many experts argue has not been conclusively disproven. Allegations that Dr. Fauci sought to divert attention from the Wuhan lab, as asserted by former top U.S. official Robert Kadlec, add further complexity to the ongoing scrutiny.
Senator Rand Paul’s accusations that Dr. Fauci lied about his agency’s funding of gain-of-function research in China have sparked a legal request for prosecution, although no concrete steps have been taken in that direction. The subcommittee also plans to explore the contentious topic of breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals, challenging initial assurances that vaccination conferred immunity.
The range of inquiries extends to Dr. Fauci’s advocacy for stringent measures such as forced closures of businesses and schools. The subcommittee aims to scrutinize statements made by Dr. Fauci and others on post-infection immunity, classification methodologies for COVID-19 deaths, the acceptance of royalties, and the use of personal email by one of his top deputies to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act.
Despite the closed-door nature of the questioning, Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Brad Wenstrup underscores the importance of transparency. Over 200 pages of meticulously prepared questions and approximately 100 exhibits, including correspondence on natural immunity, are indicative of the subcommittee’s comprehensive approach. Wenstrup emphasizes that Dr. Fauci’s forthcoming, honest, and transparent testimony is crucial for obtaining a thorough understanding of the decision-making processes during the pandemic. A public hearing is also anticipated in the future, ensuring that the scrutiny of Dr. Fauci’s actions remains accessible to the wider public.