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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public face of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic response, told lawmakers this week that the social distancing recommendations forced on Americans “sort of just appeared” and were likely not based on scientific data.
Fauci, 83, made the startling revelation in a closed-door interview with the House Select Committee on Coronavirus Pandemic. He also testified that the lab leak hypothesis — which was often suppressed — was not a conspiracy theory and that the policies and mandates he promoted may increase vaccine hesitancy in the future, Committee Chair Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Wenstrup’s committee has been investigating whether government officials at the time, including Fauci, worked to suppress questions about whether the pandemic was the result of a lab leak in Wuhan, China.
Republicans have accused those officials of pushing the natural origin theory in a bid to protect China.
Fauci became a politically polarizing figure during the pandemic. He was vilified by those opposed to lockdowns, masking rules and vaccine mandates, while being idolized by those who agreed with the government’s actions.
Dr. Anthony Fauci arrives for a closed-door interview with the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. At right, people comply with social distancing rules during the pandemic in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images | Noam Galai/Getty Images)
“Dr. Fauci’s transcribed interview revealed systemic failures in our public health system and shed light on serious procedural concerns with our public health authority,” wrote Wenstrup, a physician of over 30 years.
“It is clear that dissenting opinions were often not considered or suppressed completely. Should a future pandemic arise, America’s response must be guided by scientific facts and conclusive data.”
Many schools across the country were shuttered in order to comply with the six-foot rule of social distancing in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, while it also helped spur lockdowns and restrictions in public spaces as well as bars and restaurants.
However, Fauci, according to Wenstrup, characterized the development of the guidance by stating “it sort of just appeared.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci is shown wearing a mask during the COVID pandemic. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Fauci also acknowledged that the lab leak hypothesis, which claims the coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan, is not a conspiracy theory.
In fact, Wenstrup said Fauci played semantics with the definition of a “lab leak” while acknowledging that a lab leak was possible.
Wenstrup said the admission came nearly four years after prompting the publication of the “Proximal Origin” paper that attempted to vilify and disprove the lab leak hypothesis.
Wenstrup said Fauci also admitted that America’s vaccine mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic could increase vaccine hesitancy in the future and that he had advised American universities to impose vaccine mandates on their students.
“It’s been proven that when you make it difficult for people in their lives, they lose their ideological bulls—, and they get vaccinated,” Fauci previously stated.
Wenstrup also said the committee was “frustrated” by Fauci’s inability to recollect COVID-19 information that was important to the investigation, although he praised him for appearing.
Fauci also denied allegations that he visited the CIA during the pandemic or influenced the CIA’s investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
Committee Chair Brad Wenstrup said Fauci admitted that America’s vaccine mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic could increase vaccine hesitancy in the future. (iStock)
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who has been Fauci’s biggest nemesis, said in an appearance on “The Ingraham Angle” on Tuesday that Fauci lied about the origins of COVID.
“The one thing that’s consistent about Anthony Fauci is that what he says in private is largely true, what he says in public is largely a lie.”
Added Sen. Paul, “When asked by a fellow co-worker, Sylvia Burwell, he told her the truth. He said the masks don’t work because the pores are bigger than the virus … but then in public he wears three masks and in private he tells his colleagues you don’t need to wear one.”
“It’s the same with immunity, it’s the same with the vaccines, and it’s really the same with gain of function,” Paul said. In basic terms, the point of gain-of-function research is to make a virus more dangerous and supporters argue that the research can prepare scientists to handle it if one day the virus were to mutate naturally.
“In private he said, yes, we’re suspicious that the virus was manipulated, looks manipulated and we know they’re doing gain of function in Wuhan. He describes it — that’s in a private email.”
“In public, to this day, he still denies that they funded any gain of function research in Wuhan. It’s all an entire lie,” he said.
Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report.