When Dr. Anthony Fauci declined to discuss what he’s done to look into the causes of COVID-19, his farewell White House news conference turned into a close to yelling fight.
After working as President Biden’s top medical advisor since last year and as the US government’s foremost infectious disease expert since 1984, Fauci, 81, wants to retire next month.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, who was moderating Fauci’s farewell Q&A, interrupted the briefing to chastise Glebova, which allowed additional reporters to demand for Fauci to respond.
“Hold on one second. We have a process here. I’m not calling out on people that yell. And you’re being disrespectful to your colleagues, and you’re being disrespectful to our guests. I will not call on you if you yell and also you’re taking time off the clock because Dr. Fauci has to leave in a couple of minutes,” Jean-Pierre said to Glebova.
Then, as reporters from other news organizations, like as Al Jazeera and The Post, submitted their own inquiries for Fauci to respond to, the briefing room exploded. Other journalists criticized the interruption, claiming that final briefings are typically delicate settings.
“We need an answer, Dr. Fauci, on the COVID origins. Why are we still funding the EcoHealth Alliance, Dr. Fauci? Why are they getting millions of more dollars?,” one of the reporters asked.
“You need to call on people from across the room. She has a valid question. She’s asking about the origins of COVID and Dr. Fauci is the best person to answer,” Simon Ateba from Today News Africa insisted.
“I hear your question, but we’re not doing this the way you want it. This is disrespectful. Simon, I’m done. I’m done with you right now, you’re taking time away from your colleagues,” Jean-Pierre hysterically stated.
Before the lethal pandemic started in the same Chinese city in late 2019, Fauci’s organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indirectly supported research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology on the gain of function that makes viruses more transmissible and dangerous.
Despite the US intelligence community’s assessment that a lab release was one of two plausible explanations for the pandemic’s origins, along with naturally occurring animal-to-human transmission, Fauci’s organization last month announced $5 million in new grants for the same Wuhan-affiliated organization, the EcoHealth Alliance.
In emails, Fauci previously tried to quell early concerns that COVID-19 might have come from a lab breach. He described the hypothesis as a “shiny object.”