Elon Musk has said that internal Twitter documents containing revelations about the former White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci would be released within days, in what’s been dubbed the “Fauci Files.”
Musk said in a Jan. 1 message to his Twitter followers that he hopes they’re “having a great day 1” of the New Year, adding that 2023 definitely “won’t be boring.”
Reacting to Musk’s message was Juanita Broaddrick, an 80-year-old former nursing home administrator that once alleged she was raped by former President Bill Clinton in 1978, saying in a post that she’s waiting for the release of the “#FauciFiles.”
“Later this week,” Musk replied, suggesting that his criticism of Fauci will continue into the New Year.
Fauci, for his part, said recently that he doesn’t pay any attention to Musk’s jabs, calling them a mere “distraction.”
Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be stepping down from his roles as the White House chief medical adviser and as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) on Dec. 31, 2022.
Twitter Files on COVID-19
Musk took over Twitter in October and vowed to try and cleanse the platform of political bias in content moderation. He has enabled the release of a string of so-called “Twitter Files,” or internal company discussions that lift the lid on the inner workings of the social media giant’s censorship machine.
A recent Twitter Files disclosure shows that the company suppressed COVID-19 information from doctors and experts when it differed from “establishment views” on the pandemic.
Internal emails published by journalist David Zweig show that there were “countless instances” of Twitter posts being taken down or labeled as “misleading” because they differed from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines or “establishment views” around COVID-19 or vaccines.
“The United States government pressured Twitter and other social media platforms to elevate certain content and suppress other content about COVID-19,” Zweig wrote in a post on Twitter, saying in another post that when the Biden administration took over, one of their first meeting requests with Twitter executives was on the pandemic, with a focus on vaccines and “high-profile anti-vaxxer accounts.”
Fauci, who has been a lightning rod of criticism over COVID-19 lockdowns that he once supported, penned a guest essay in The New York Times earlier in December. In in, he lamented that “our fight against Covid-19 has been hindered by the profound political divisiveness” and that decisions about public health measures like vaccinations and mask-wearing “have been influenced by disinformation and political ideology.”
Fauci became a household name in the United States following the COVID-19 outbreak, giving over 1,000 interviews to various news outlets since early 2020 and drawing both praise and criticism for his grim warnings and support for harsh measures including lockdowns.
For instance, in October 2020, Fauci publicly recommended that then-President Donald Trump “shut the country down,” although it’s not clear what he meant, as presidents don’t have the authority to impose sweeping lockdowns.
“When it became clear that we had community spread in the country … I recommended to the president that we shut the country down,” he said in an event with students at the College of the Holy Cross in October 2020.
Fauci acknowledged some missteps in the fight against the pandemic in a Dec. 25 interview with The Guardian.
“I don’t think anybody got it completely 100-percent right but the idea to say that you should have not put any restrictions on anything at a time when there was a tsunami of infections and New York City hospitals were getting overrun, practically—think of Elmhurst hospital, remember those pictures of the cooler trucks with bodies piling up in that—you had to do something pretty significant to slow that down,” he said.
Overall, however, Fauci insisted that “we tried our best given our best judgment and our analysis of what was going on around us to make recommendations.”
One of those who’s been critical of Fauci over his recommendations to impose COVID-19 restrictions is Musk, who strongly opposed lockdowns.
Musk recently suggested that the former NIAID director should face legal action and revealed that Twitter staff had a Fauci fan club, hinting at the social media platform’s political leanings under prior management.
Fauci did not respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.
‘Fauci Fan Club’
Musk said on Dec. 28 that Twitter employees had an internal group on the Slack messaging system that was “unironically called ‘Fauci Fan Club.'”
Musk’s post noted that the Fauci fan club was set up despite outstanding “glaring issues” regarding Fauci, including the question of whether the White House adviser was untruthful when he denied that U.S. federal money was used to fund risky “gain-of-function” research at a Chinese lab at the center of speculation about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his thread on Twitter, Musk also shared a Newsweek article from September 2021 that carried the headline, “Fauci Was ‘Untruthful’ to Congress About Wuhan Lab Research, New Documents Appear to Show.”
The documents the article refers to were obtained and released by The Intercept following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the publication against the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The documents obtained by The Intercept detail the work of the EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based health organization that used federal money to fund research into bat coronaviruses at the Chinese lab in Wuhan.
Some have argued that the documents show that research funded by EcoHealth in China amounted to “gain-of-function.” This type of research involves altering the properties of a pathogen, such as its virulence, in order to study its potential impact on human health. Gain-of-function research is controversial because of the potential risks it poses.
Seven out of 11 scientists who are virologists or work in related fields were asked by The Intercept about the documents, and they said that the work appears to meet the NIH criteria for gain-of-function research.
EcoHealth, NIH, and NIAID that Fauci headed at the time have denied that the funding amounted to gain-of-function research, while Fauci himself has repeatedly insisted that it did not.
“The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Fauci said at a Senate hearing on May 11, 2021.
NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said in a statement on May 19 that “neither NIH nor NIAID have ever approved any grant that would have supported ‘gain-of-function’ research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans.”
The question of whether the research amounted to gain-of-unction appears to be to some extent subjective.
“No one knows exactly what counts as gain-of-function, so we disagree as to what needs oversight, much less what that oversight should be,” said Nicholas Evans, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, who specializes in biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, in remarks to ASBMB Today.
But Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, has insisted the research amounted to gain-of-function and that Fauci and others lied when insisting it was not.
“The materials confirm the grants supported the construction—in Wuhan—of novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses that combined a spike gene from one coronavirus with genetic information from another coronavirus, and confirmed the resulting viruses could infect human cells,” Ebright wrote on Twitter.
“The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at [the Wuhan Institute of Virology] are untruthful,” he added, referring to the Freedom of Information Act documents obtained by The Intercept.
‘Lockdowns May Claim 20 Times More Life Years Than They Save’
At the height of the outbreak, Fauci repeatedly backed harsh measures that were believed to help contain COVID-19, including lockdowns.
Since then, research (pdf) has suggested lockdowns had a minimal impact on virus spread and COVID-19 mortality, while having a “devastating” impact on the economy and society.
Some studies have identified lockdowns as contributing to jumps in suicides, mental health crises, learning loss, and delayed health treatments.
Other studies have indicated lockdowns worked to stem the spread of the virus.
“Our results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions—and lockdowns in particular—have had a large effect on reducing transmission,” wrote the authors of the study backing restrictive measures, though the research did not evaluate any unintended impacts of the measures.
But a recent study that looked at a wide array of research into lockdowns concluded that such measures can be an effective tool in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, but only if “long-term collateral damage is neglected.”
“The price tag of lockdowns in terms of public health is high: by using the known connection between health and wealth, we estimate that lockdowns may claim 20 times more life years than they save,” the study’s authors wrote.
That study’s authors also said that what deserves a “special and urgent analysis” is the question of “to what extent, why, and how the dissenting (disapproved by healthcare officials) scientific opinions were suppressed during COVID-19.”
“Suppression of ‘misleading’ opinions causes not only grave consequences for scientists’ moral compass; it prevents the scientific community from correcting mistakes and jeopardizes (with a good reason) public trust in science,” they wrote.
Republicans said earlier this year that if they retake the House in the midterm election—which they have now done—they will pursue a COVID-19-related investigation and would seek Fauci’s testimony.
Fauci, for his part, has said he’d be willing to testify.
“If there are oversight hearings, I absolutely will cooperate fully and testify before the Congress,” Fauci told reporters on Nov. 22.
“I have no trouble testifying—we can defend and explain everything that we’ve said,” he added.
Jack Phillips and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times