It was Jan. 31, 2020, and a leading infectious disease expert, Kristian Andersen, had been examining the genetic characteristics of the newly emerging SARS-CoV virus.
“Some of the features (potentially) look engineered,” Andersen wrote in an email to Dr. Anthony Fauci, noting that he and other scientists “all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.”
But, he added, “we have to look at this much more closely and there are still further analyses to be done, so those opinions could still change.”
Change they did. Just four days later, Andersen helped coordinate a statement that would later be published in the prestigious Lancet medical journal that not only argued against the idea that the virus had been engineered, but branded it a conspiracy theory.
That initial email, which was released to the Washington Post and BuzzFeed this week under the Freedom of Information Act, has been seized on by conservative news organizations as a smoking gun, proving that top officials and scientists covered up the origins of the Covid-19 virus.
On its own, the email doesn’t prove that or any other conclusions. But it does raise questions about why Andersen and other scientists came down so firmly in defense of “the medical professionals of China,” as the Lancet letter put it, appearing to brand any suggestion of a potential Chinese cover-up of the virus origins as out of bounds.