On June 4, 2021, amid a swirl of controversy about Dr. Anthony Fauci's emails, not to mention an ongoing churn of conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green took to Twitter to demand answers from the Biden administration about the origins of the pandemic, among other questions:
And yes, as one TikTok user pointed out, Greene ended her letter by urging the Biden administration to respond by June 31, 2021. A bizarre deadline, considering that date does not exist.
Unanswered questions do remain about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, and plenty of distortion has been present in some sources' pursuit to politicize those questions.
In early June 2021, more than 3,000 private emails from Fauci were obtained by the Washington Post, Buzzfeed News and CNN through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The timeframe for the emails spanned from January to June 2020 and offered a perspective into the United States' response to COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. A review of the emails showed correspondence between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and well-known public figures, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and actor Morgan Fairchild.
And what prompted controversy following the release of Fauci’s correspondence was a new push by Republican leaders and conspiracy theorists that suggested content in his emails provided evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was manufactured and leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Also contained in the emails were communications between Fauci and an executive at the U.S.-based EcoHealth Alliance, the global nonprofit that collaborated with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and provided some funding for research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. As we have previously reported, misinformation peddlers like Tucker Carlson have used this connection to suggest that Fauci was “responsible” for the COVID-19 pandemic based, in part, on speculation that NIH-funded "gain of function" research efforts resulted in a manipulated form of the coronavirus “spilling over” from the lab.
What we do know as of this writing is that there is no evidence of wrongdoing on Fauci’s behalf. Though the precise origins of the virus remain unclear, a joint investigation conducted by the World Health Organization in March found that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal was the most likely scenario, and that the lab leak theory is “extremely unlikely.” However, some political leaders have argued that the report did not adequately answer questions surrounding the origins of the virus, and U.S. President Joe Biden went as far as to order U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble” their efforts in finding the source of the pandemic.