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'Brave': Researcher with close ties to Wuhan lab thanked Dr. Fauci for dismissing lab leak theory, email shows

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A central figure in bat research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, who leads a nonprofit with close ties to the bio lab, personally thanked Dr. Anthony Fauci last April after he publicly dismissed the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from the Wuhan lab.

The revelation was revealed in the 3,200 emails obtained by BuzzFeed News as part of a Freedom of Information Act, which sought Fauci's emails.

News that people close to research at the Wuhan lab saw Fauci's dismissal as praiseworthy comes as the Wuhan lab leak theory — once dismissed as a debunked conspiracy theory despite a lack of evidence disproving the possibility — gains significant traction.

What are the details?

The email shows that EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak messaged Fauci on April 18, 2020, to thank him for saying at a presidential press briefing the day prior that evidence showed the pandemic's origins were "totally consistent" with a virus jumping from an infected animal to humans.

EcoHealth Alliance is the same nonprofit that was given taxpayer money by the National Institutes of Health to send to the Wuhan lab for the purposes of studying bat coronavirus before the pandemic.

"I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology," Daszak wrote in the email.

"From my perspective, your comments are brave, and coming from your trusted voice, will help dispel the myths being spun around the virus' origins," he added.

Daszak also barked about Fox News reporters inquiring about the grant and research.

Fauci responded, "Peter: Many thanks for your kind note. Best regards, Tony."

A large section of Daszak's email, however, was redacted under a FOIA exception that permits withholding of "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that production of such law enforcement records or information ... could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings."

Interestingly, Daszak's group also organized a letter last February, which was signed by more than two dozen prominent public health officials, to "strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin."

That letter, which was published in The Lancet, generated significant media attention, and ultimately drove institutionalized dismissal of the Wuhan lab leak theory.

Peter Daszak in Wuhan to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Compounding apparent conflicts of interest, Daszak was also a member of the World Health Organization investigative team that entered Wuhan in January to conduct an investigation into the pandemic's origin.

To the shock of no one, that investigation, which was tightly controlled by Beijing, affirmed China's assertion that COVID-19 emerged naturally, not as the result of any work being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In fact, Daszak admitted in March the WHO investigative team simply accepted what China told them about COVID-19 and the immediate aftermath of the virus outbreak.

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