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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Anthony Fauci will testify before Congress on COVID origins and the US pandemic response

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Anthony Fauci, former chief White House medical adviser, is expected to testify before Congress early next year as part of Republicans’ yearslong investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and the U.S. response to the disease.

Fauci, who served as the nation’s top infectious disease expert before retiring last year, will sit for transcribed interviews in early January and a public hearing at a later date. It will be his first appearance before the Republican-controlled House.

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic first requested a sit-down with Fauci in February, but an agreement over the timing and details of the interviews was just reached with Fauci’s attorneys earlier this month, according to a letter sent Thursday from the committee.

“It is time for Dr. Fauci to confront the facts and address the numerous controversies that have arisen during and after the pandemic,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup, the GOP chairman of the committee, said in a statement.

House Republicans have investigated whether Fauci or other U.S. government officials took part in any sort of cover-up about the origin of the deadly virus. Fauci, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, has repeatedly called the GOP criticism nonsense.

Wenstrup, who is also a longtime member of the House Intelligence Committee, has accused Fauci and U.S. intelligence of withholding key facts about its investigation into the coronavirus. Republicans on the committee last year issued a staff report arguing that there are “indications” that the virus may have been developed as a bioweapon inside China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

That would contradict a U.S. intelligence community assessment released in unclassified form in August 2021 that said analysts do not believe the virus was a bioweapon, though it may have leaked in a lab accident.

Many scientists, including Fauci, who until December served as Biden’s chief medical adviser, say they still believe the virus most likely emerged in nature and jumped from animals to humans, a well-documented phenomenon known as a spillover event. Virus researchers have not publicly identified any key new scientific evidence that might make the lab-leak hypothesis more likely.

But Republicans have accused Fauci of lying to Congress when he denied in May 2022 that the National Institutes of Health funded “gain of function” research — the practice of enhancing a virus in a lab to study its potential impact in the real world — at a virology lab in Wuhan. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, even urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Fauci’s statements.

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