Former NIH Director Collins reverses stance on COVID-19 lab leak theory

'Dr. Collins agreed with Dr. Fauci’s concession that the COVID-19 lab leak hypothesis is not a conspiracy,' Wenstrup wrote following his interview with Collins.

Former NIH Director Collins reverses stance on COVID-19 lab leak theory
Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP
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Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), acknowledged to Congress that the theory of a laboratory origin for COVID-19 is plausible. This admission marks a significant shift from his 2021 stance, where he dismissed the lab leak hypothesis as a distraction.

In a lengthy, seven-hour closed-door session with the House Select Committee on Coronavirus Pandemic, Collins echoed the sentiments of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was at the forefront of the U.S. response to the pandemic. Committee Chairman Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, highlighted Collins' agreement with Fauci's acknowledgment that the lab leak theory is a viable hypothesis and not a mere conspiracy, Fox News reported.

"Dr. Collins agreed with Dr. Fauci’s concession that the COVID-19 lab leak hypothesis is not a conspiracy," Wenstrup wrote following his interview with Collins.

Collins' testimony also touched upon the contentious issue of gain-of-function research. Rep. Wenstrup noted that Collins appeared to use careful language when discussing NIH’s funding of such research in Wuhan, mirroring Fauci's staunch defense during his congressional testimonies.

"This wordplay mimics Dr. Fauci’s profuse defense of his previous Congressional testimony, where he claimed the NIH did not fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan," wrote Wenstrup.

Furthermore, Collins reportedly confirmed his participation in a conference call organized by Fauci on February 1, 2020. This call led to the "Proximal Origin" publication, which sought to discredit the lab leak hypothesis, further complicating the narrative around the U.S. government's handling of this theory.

"This testimony directly contradicts Dr. Fauci’s previous statements and raises further concerns about the U.S. government’s role in suppressing and vilifying the lab-leak hypothesis," Wenstrup said. 

In addition to revisiting the lab leak discussion, Collins concurred with Fauci that the widely-advised six-foot social distancing guideline was not firmly based on scientific evidence.

Collins also reiterated his criticism of the Great Barrington Declaration, a proposal advocating for focused protection of the vulnerable while reducing restrictions on the young and healthy. This stance aligns with his previous comments, where he expressed skepticism about the herd immunity strategy and called for a strong rebuttal against it.

In a previous interview with Fox News' Bret Baier, Collins defended his criticism of the Great Barrington Declaration, insisting that adopting such a strategy would have resulted in numerous fatalities.

"I did write that, and I will stand by that," Collins told Baier at the time. "Basically, these fringe epidemiologists who really did not have the credentials to be making such a grand sweeping statement, were saying just let the virus run through the population and, eventually, then everybody would have had it, and everything will be okay."

The House subcommittee's investigation, led by Wenstrup, probes the actions of government officials, including Fauci and Collins, regarding the suppression of the lab leak theory and the endorsement of the natural origin theory, amid accusations of an attempt to shield China from scrutiny.

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