Anthony Fauci Says Email Comments 'Ripe To Be Taken Out of Context'

Dr. Anthony Fauci has responded to the controversy ignited after thousands of his emails relating to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic were released, saying that they were "ripe to be taken out of context."

On Tuesday, following FOI requests, Buzzfeed News published around 3,200 pages of emails from Fauci's inbox, while The Washington Post released more than 860 pages.

Buzzfeed obtained emails from January to June 2020, while the Post saw correspondence from March to April of that year, showing an insight into the work and schedule of Fauci during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

Some of the revelations from the emails caused controversy, as his upcoming book about his "life philosophy" was removed from the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites and conservative commentator Candace Owens said he should go to prison.

Speaking to NewsNation Now host Leland Vittert during an interview on Wednesday, Fauci, who was tasked with communicating the science of the pandemic to the U.S., insisted that his correspondence had been misinterpreted.

"The only trouble is they are really ripe to be taken out of context where someone can snip out a sentence in an email without showing the other emails and say, 'based on an email from Dr. Fauci, he said such-and-such,' where you don't really have the full context," Fauci told the host.

Republican lawmakers and other conservative critics called for Fauci to be fired from his role as President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, following the release of the emails on Tuesday evening.

One piece of correspondence that critics focused on was an email Fauci sent on February 5 to Sylvia Burwell, who served as U.S. secretary of health and human services during the Obama administration, where he told her she did not need to wear a face mask for an upcoming trip.

He said that store-bought masks were "really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection" and said Burwell should be fine without one as she was going to a "very low risk location."

Although Fauci changed his stance on wearing masks when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance in April to include the use of face coverings, his email in February did not differ from his public comments on masks at that time.

The emails also revealed that scientific experts working with Fauci at the end of January 2020 were concerned that the features of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus behind COVID-19, could have been "engineered."

Last week, Biden ordered intelligence officials to look into the origin of the virus and to see if it was created in the lab and then accidentally leaked. China has denied the accusation.

In the interview with NewsNation on Wednesday, Fauci also defended the National Institutes of Health sending $3.4 million to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for various projects from 2014 to 2019.

The funding to the lab has recently come under scrutiny amid concerns that COVID-19 leaked from the lab prior to it spreading across the world.

"The Wuhan lab is a very large lab, to the tune of hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars — the grant that we're talking about was $600,000 over five years," Fauci said about funding projects at the WIV.

He said that he could not "guarantee everything that's going on in the Wuhan lab" but said that he believes it is "our obligation as scientists and public health individuals to study the animal-human interface."

Newsweek has contacted a representative of Fauci for comment.

Anthony Fauci responds to emails controversy
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss the ongoing federal response to COVID-19 on May 11, 2021 in Washington, DC. On Wednesday June 2 2021, Fauci responded to the controversy that was ignited after thousands of his emails relating to his work tackling the COVID-19 pandemic were released, saying that they were “ripe to be taken out of context.” Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images