Mudsock Heights

Mudsock Heights

Image captured and colorized at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana. (Credit: NIAID; CC BY 2.0)

Fauci, Collins, and the Corruption of Science

By Dennis E. Powell | Posted at 9:02 PM

This is getting uglier and uglier.

The evidence continues to mount that in the early days of the current pandemic Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Francis Collins, at the time the director of the National Institutes of Health, took extraordinary action to suppress the idea that SARS-CoV-2 originated in a Chinese laboratory.

Disclosure of the possibility, Collins said in a letter to Fauci and other colleagues Feb. 2, 2020, would do “great potential harm to science and international harmony.”

The two physicians — Collins, a geneticist, and Fauci, an immunologist — do not have international harmony as part of their portfolio, though Fauci has said in public that he and science are one and the same. As details continue to unfold, it looks increasingly that this is the flavor of “science” that the two sought to protect.

I’ve covered Dr. Anthony Fauci off and on for decades, going back to the time during the Reagan administration that Fauci was involved in AIDS research. He figured over the years in several other stories on which I worked. The sense I got from his colleagues was that he isn’t so much respected as feared. “Tony Fauci’s field of research?” laughed one of those colleagues in an interview nearly two decades ago. “He seeks out things that will benefit Tony Fauci, and he’s very good at it.” The colleague spoke only on condition of anonymity. “He can ruin your career, and would.”

In the early days of the pandemic, serious scientists tried to identify the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On Feb. 1, 2020, several of those scientists as well as Fauci and Collins took part in a conference call, the contents of which are enlightening.

“I really can’t think of a plausible natural scenario where you get from the bat virus or one very similar to it to nCoV where you insert exactly 4 amino acids 12 nucleotide that all have to be added at the exact same time to gain this function — that and you don’t change any other amino acid in S2?” said Tulane University microbiologist and immunologist Bob Garry. “I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature. . . . Of course, in the lab it would be easy to generate the perfect 12 base insert that you wanted.” Translated, this means it’s highly unlikely that the virus would be formed in the natural world, while cooking it up in a lab would be trivial.

Said Scripps Research microbiologist and immunologist Mike Farzan, “I think it becomes a question of how do you put all this together, whether you believe in this series of coincidences, what you know of the lab in Wuhan, how much could be in nature — accidental release or natural event? I am 70:30 or 60:40.” The odds according to Farzan had the virus being a product of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese government’s science-military research lab that by strange coincidence is located in the exact city where the virus first emerged.

So, on the busy weekend of Feb. 1 and 2, 2020, recognized experts in the field, in a government teleconference, were saying that it seemed pretty clear that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a laboratory, a leading one of which was in Wuhan, China.

This was, for reasons yet to be divulged, very much not to the liking of Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci. And it soon began to get coverage. Collins sent an email to Fauci and others on April 16 which read in part: “Wondering if there is something NIH can do to help put down this very destructive conspiracy, with what seems to be growing momentum[.]” He said he had hoped that an article in Nature, which had passed through Collins and Fauci on its way to publication and which poo-poohed the idea that the virus had been engineered in a lab, would have been dispositive. Fauci replied, “I would not do anything about this right now. It is a shiny object that will go away in times.”

Why in the world would Collins and Fauci be so quick to dismiss and eager to suppress the opinions of some of the best scientists in the field? Weird, isn’t it.

It could be, it just might be, that they were afraid it might emerge that the virus, which came from China, was bought and paid for by U.S. taxpayers, with the money distributed by Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins. That seems like reasonable grounds for a coverup, don’t you think?

You see, to conduct research scientists need money. A leading source of this money is the federal government. For example, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — headed by Fauci — has $6.5 billion to hand out this fiscal year. For Collins’s National Institutes of Health, it’s much more. If research is your game, it’s best to stay on the good side of people like Fauci and Collins — who made it clear that they did not want it getting out that SARS-CoV-2 might be a product of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Putting together a paper on the possible origins of a novel coronavirus? Surely you wouldn’t mind letting us have a look at it ahead of time, right?

That’s what happened to the Nature article to which Collins referred. In the news business, it’s an enormous ethical violation to give the subject of an article access to it before it is published. Who would ever have guessed that journalistic ethics are more stringent than scientific ethics? Still, it stands to reason, if you’re sending your article to a sawed-off bureaucrat who is wont to announce that he is science and who is responsible for the food on your table.

By this time it should come as no surprise to you that two of the authors of the Nature paper, Garry and Scripps immunologist and microbiologist Kristian Anderson, had changed their minds, and were suddenly awarded a $9 million government research grant. Is it a payoff if it’s tendered with your money?

I mentioned that there’s a possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was bought and paid for with taxpayer dollars. That’s not hyperbole.

In New York there is a shadowy outfit called EcoHealth Alliance. It exists largely on your taxpayer dollars, the majority of which it apparently tries to obscure from scrutiny. Among its activities are the funneling of U.S. government money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In other contexts this might be called money laundering. In April 2020, a federal grant to EcoHealth was canceled after it became known that the outfit was using it to finance apparent gain-of-function bat virus research in Wuhan, China. For some reason, the grant wasn’t just restored but increased a few months later.

In 2014, Collins’s NIH had banned funding of gain-of-function research, in which microbes are tinkered with in order to make them more deadly, but for some reason the agency lifted that ban in 2017. Gain-of-function research is very dangerous stuff, and the NIH established what it said is a multidisciplinary review process to make sure that such research is conducted safely (to the extent that it can be). Whether financing a Chinese military lab to conduct such research meets the criteria is unknown.

Not that it mattered to EcoHealth, which sent $600,000 to the Wuhan lab for research on bat viruses. EcoHealth seems unconcerned with the terms of government grants. “EcoHealth was reprimanded by the NIH's principal deputy director, Lawrence Tabak, in October [2021], when Tabak found that the organization delayed revealing that a U.S.-funded experiment conducted with the Wuhan lab determined that mice with implanted human cells became sicker with an engineered version of bat coronavirus. Terms of the grant required such a finding to be reported immediately.” Can you say “gain-of-function”? I knew that you could.

From the same article: “Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also been adamant that the NIH did not fund gain-of-function research at the Chinese government lab.”

We cannot know why — it would take a serious investigation to learn that — but it’s pretty clear that Collins and Fauci spoke falsely under oath in their denial that NIH had paid for Chinese gain-of-function research. The agency even admitted it later.

The more you dig, the more like a mad-scientist B movie it all sounds. The players in this whole sorry business, both scientists and politicians, have not showered themselves in glory, despite the adulation of the same unhappy sycophants in the media who cast praise on now-disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

I look forward to their books following their ignominious departure from public life. Which I hope they write from jail cells.

I mean, Watergate was bad, but it would have been worse if had killed 5.6 million people.

Dennis E. Powell is crackpot-at-large at Open for Business. Powell was a reporter in New York and elsewhere before moving to Ohio, where he has (mostly) recovered. You can reach him at

Share on:
Follow On:

Start the Conversation

Be the first to comment!

You need to be logged in if you wish to comment on this article. Sign in or sign up here.