Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’s leading federal infectious disease expert, has had 3,234 pages of his emails released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These emails span from January to June 2020 and were obtained by reporters after filing a lawsuit.

Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and soared to stardom during the pandemic, particularly during his face-offs with former President Donald Trump. The experienced expert kept his cool throughout the politically heightened first few months of the pandemic. His brand of honesty and level-headedness are seen throughout his emails and numerous interviews.

Some of the emails have caused controversy, especially among conservatives and conspiracy theory websites.

In an email dated February 5, 2020, a woman asked Fauci for his opinion about flying domestically and wearing masks in light of the few COVID cases already reported in the United States at that point. After confirming that she was safe to fly, Fauci moved on to the subject of masks.

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“Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection,” Fauci wrote. “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low-risk location.”

Many have taken these quotes out of context to accuse Fauci of misinforming the American people on topics such as masks. In a recent CNN interview, Fauci restated that had he known how the pandemic was going to progress, he would have made different recommendations. But, that at the time that was the appropriate advice considering this email was sent on February 5, 2020, when the world, and especially the United States, did not have a lot of information on COVID-19.

Peter Daszak, the CEO of a nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance, a company that has been working to find the origins of COVID and did research with the Wuhan lab in the past, emailed Fauci with the subject line, “Thank you for your public comments re COVID-19’s origins.” The email went on to state: “I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

Fauci defended his view on CNN reiterating that he strongly believes that COVID was transmitted from animal-human contact, but allowing that it could still be possible it also came from a lab leak. President Joe Biden recently ordered government agencies to determine whether the lab-leak theory is scientifically valid.

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