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Scientist who told Fauci COVID-19 possibly engineered — then argued the opposite — deletes Twitter account

GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A virologist who co-wrote an article in March 2020 arguing against the lab-leak theory regarding COVID-19's origins has deleted his Twitter account amid scrutiny after unearthed emails show he told Dr. Anthony Fauci just weeks prior that "some of the features" of the virus "(potentially) look engineered."

What are the details?

Virologist Kristian Andersen, a professor at Scripps Research Institute, has fallen under the microscope after a trove of emails from Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, were obtained by the media last week through Freedom of Information Act requests.

As TheBlaze previously reported, Andersen wrote Fauci on Jan. 31. 2020, 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 the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered."

NBC News reported that just four days after that email to Fauci, Andersen wrote in another email that suggestions that the virus was engineered were "crackpot theories," adding, "we have to look at this much more closely and there are still further analyses to be done, so those opinions could still change."

A few weeks later on March 17, 2020, the journal Nature Medicine published an article by Andersen and four other researchers wherein they argued, "We do not believe any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible."

Upon the emergence of emails between Andersen and Fauci, people began calling out Andersen on social media and urging him to explain himself on his apparent about-face on the origins of COVID-19 in such a short period of time. Others criticized the NIH funding Andersen and Scripps received following his public dismissal of the lab-leak theory, and several users accused the virologist of deleting thousands of tweets following the emergence of the emails. He ultimately deactivating his account altogether.

Newsweek reported that before Andersen deleted his account he defended himself, tweeting in response to a question on his email to Fauci, "we thought — on preliminary look — that the virus could have been engineered and/or manipulated. Turns out the data suggest otherwise — which is the conclusion of our paper."

He continued, "As I have said many times, we seriously considered a lab leak a possibility. However, significant new data, extensive analyses and many discussions led to the conclusions in our paper. What the email shows is a clear example of the scientific process."

Andersen told Newsweek, "Conspiracies have created a narrative where we all dismissed it [the lab-leak hypothesis] out of hand. That's absurd and couldn't be further from the truth. It's just that the data don't support the hypothesis."

Anything else?

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to Fox News that Andersen deleted his own account, but Andersen did not immediately reply to the outlet's request for comment on him leaving the platform and his emails to Fauci.

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