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Fauci tells House COVID panel he’s ‘not convinced’ kids suffered learning loss due to pandemic school closures

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the top public health officials in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic, told House lawmakers on Tuesday he was “not convinced” that children suffered learning loss due to school closures his agency supported.

The former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director made the stunning admission on the second and final day of his 14-hour, closed-door interview with the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, according to two of its members.

“He says he’s still not convinced that there was learning loss — that in his view, that’s still really open for discussion,” Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas), who sits on the panel, told The Post.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told House lawmakers on Tuesday he was “not convinced” that children suffered learning loss due to school closures his agency supported. AP
Fauci repeatedly called for strict social distancing, masking and lockdowns but has frequently denied responsibility for the fallout. AP

“I think [if] you ask any parent, they’ll tell you it was a major hit on their child’s development,” Cloud added.

A member of former President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force and chief medical adviser to President Biden before his retirement at the end of 2022, Fauci repeatedly called for strict social distancing, masking and lockdowns but has frequently denied responsibility for the fallout.

“Show me a school that I shut down and show me a factory that I shut down. Never. I never did,” he told The New York Times Magazine in April 2023, when he was asked about his support for the “heavy-handed” policies.

“I think [if] you ask any parent, they’ll tell you it was a major hit on their child’s development,” Rep. Michael Cloud told The Post (R-Texas). CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

“I gave a public health recommendation that echoed the CDC’s recommendation, and people made a decision based on that,” he said. “But I never criticized the people who had to make the decisions one way or the other.”

Cloud said Fauci had showed an “amazing ability to either forget what happened or then to find ways to shirk any sort of responsibility for the influence that was had,” during his marathon session.

​​“They wash their hands of any sort of responsibility, saying, ‘Oh, those decisions were made by school districts.’ But the school districts know, if you don’t follow the guidance that’s coming out of the federal government, you open yourselves up to lawsuits,” Cloud added.

The US Department of Education released statistics in September 2022 showing nine-year-old’s reading scores had plummeted to their lowest point in 30 years and math scores fell for the first time ever in a half century. James Keivom

The US Department of Education released statistics in September 2022 showing reading scores among nine-year-olds had plummeted over the course of the pandemic to their lowest point in 30 years, while math scores fell for the first time ever in a half-century of tracking.

Tensions also flared over Fauci’s refusal to discuss his role in funding gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China, with House COVID panel members telling reporters the ex-NIAID doctor continued to use an alternative definition of the term to avoid discussion.

“I think he’s playing semantics with the term, and I think it’s clear that the Wuhan lab was conducting gain-of-function research,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), another panel member, told The Post.

House COVID Select Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) told reporters that determining whether SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a lab remained top of mind for his panel. Getty Images

“I mentioned earlier today to someone that it was almost like Bill Clinton arguing over what ‘is’ is,” Cloud said of Fauci’s evasions.

“They were working out what the different definitions were, which is why even when this was going on, you had one definition on the NIH website, and yet Fauci and NIAID were operating under a different definition when they were talking about it,” Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) said.

Griffith added that he believed that Fauci’s previous congressional testimony was truthful “because there are different types of gain-of-function and this was clarified.”

The Energy Department and FBI have both determined that a lab leak was the “most likely” explanation for COVID-19, whereas the CIA were unable to reach a consensus. AFP via Getty Images

Flanked by a Capitol Police officer and his attorneys, Fauci declined to talk to reporters as he entered the hearing room Tuesday morning, after claiming the previous day that he “did not recall” in response to more than 100 questions from committee members.

Fauci ignored The Post’s requests for comment on his repeated denials that he lifted a pause on funding of gain-of-function research in Wuhan — and his subsequent attempts to cover that up and evade responsibility before Congress.

His attorneys — two of them personally retained and two provided by the federal government — responded to The Post’s request for an opportunity to ask questions: “No questions, no answers.”

Fauci ignored The Post’s requests for comment on his repeated denials that he lifted a funding pause to approve gain-of-function research in Wuhan — and his attempts to cover that up. Getty Images

House COVID Select Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) told reporters that determining whether SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a lab or jumped naturally from animals to humans remained top of mind for himself and other panel members and that Fauci had expressed an “open mind” to both theories.

“I had the opportunity to get into science with Dr. Fauci, comparing nature versus possibly contrived in a lab, all those things,” Wenstrup said. “And I think it really opened the eyes that we do need further discussion on this, and he agreed with that. So I think that that was positive.”

“After he had spent so much time suppressing it, he said there’s a possibility,” Malliotakis also said. “And he acknowledged that we would need some cooperation from the Chinese to investigate the lab leak theory further.”

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) told reporters that the transcribed interview had been “helping us to get the facts and the details” while also saying the decision to question Fauci was “pretty political.” Getty Images

House COVID Subcommittee Ranking Member Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) ducked out of the hearing room through a back entrance to avoid speaking with the press but released a scathing statement on the hearing late Monday night, denouncing Republicans’ effort as a “politically driven fishing expedition.”

He did not attend any portion of the hearing on Monday, but Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), another panel member, told reporters that the transcribed interview had been “helping us to get the facts and the details” while also saying the decision to question Fauci was “pretty political.”

The Energy Department and FBI have both determined that a lab leak was the “most likely” explanation for COVID-19, whereas other intelligence agencies such as the CIA were unable to reach a consensus.

Fauci also coordinated with NIH Director Francis Collins to silence dissent about the virus potentially leaking from a Chinese lab. AP

Internal government records and Fauci’s personal emails show he was aware of potentially dangerous experiments on SARS-like viruses taking place from 2014 to 2019 –backed by a subgrant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Manhattan-based EcoHealth Alliance.

Further records obtained by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic also show the former NIAID director coordinated with then-NIH Director Francis Collins to silence dissent about the virus potentially leaking from a Chinese lab.

In a Feb. 1, 2020, email, Fauci expressed alarm that researchers at Wuhan University, which also received US grant money, were “known to have been working on gain-of-function experiments to determine that molecular mechanisms associated with bat viruses adapting to human infection.”

Fauci told the committee that he should not have stated as a “fact” in his email that gain-of-function experiments were being conducted in Wuhan.

Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, told The Post that “Fauci repeatedly and flagrantly violated US government policies implemented to protect the public from lab-generated pandemics.”

“​​Fauci attempting to deny he violated US government policies by claiming he prefers different definitions of ‘gain-of-function’ and enhanced potential pandemic pathogen is equivalent — exactly equivalent — to a terrorist attempting to deny he violated federal law by claiming he prefers a different definition of ‘terrorism,’” Ebright said.

Documents obtained by the House COVID panel have also revealed that Fauci’s NIAID worked around a government-wide pause on gain-of-function research between 2014 and 2017 to greenlight the experiments in Wuhan.

“He even acknowledged today that they did not have oversight … they didn’t have security checks,” Malliotakis said of Fauci’s time at NIAID. “Why are you signing off on millions of dollars [worth of grants] without proper vetting of these organizations or scrutiny of national security concerns?

“They abdicated their responsibility to ensure that this funding was being used properly and safely,” she added.

Last September, the Department of Health and Human Services barred the Wuhan Institute of Virology from receiving any further US funding.

Written by SaleemBaloch

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