Fauci says the idea that he hid a lab leak is ‘absurd’

Monday is the first opportunity for lawmakers to ask him about his agency’s record-keeping practices. For Republicans on the committee, the hearing is also the culmination, so far, of a long campaign against American scientists and health officials who they say helped trigger the Covid pandemic.

No new evidence of a pandemic emerging from a laboratory, with or without the help of American taxpayer funding, has emerged in a series of high-profile hearings over the past year. In a report on Monday, titled “Republicans’ Fauci Flop,” Democratic lawmakers said Republicans on the committee failed to prove that the coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, came from a lab leak.

“Select Republicans on the subcommittee devoted time and taxpayer money to an investigation into federally funded research that failed to significantly advance our understanding of the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and instead inflicted significant harm to Americans’ trust in our nation’s public health officials,” the report says.

But Dr. Fauci, who has spent more than 50 years in government service and has advised presidents of both parties on the onset of infectious diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, anthrax and influenza, is always been the most appreciated prey of the committee. Working under the presidencies of Donald J. Trump and then Biden, Dr. Fauci became the face of a Covid response that generated veneration and frustration from Americans.

Appearing frequently on television, Dr. Fauci has become a hero to Trump’s critics for correcting his falsehoods about the coronavirus. Early in the pandemic, he also downplayed the importance of masks for the general public, trying to preserve them for health workers, but later encouraged the use of masks, prompting his critics to say he was doing a whim. And he publicly celebrated the Covid injections, turning the anti-vaccine movement against him.

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