Did NIH officials hide COVID-19 records?

May 23, 2024

(NewsNation) — The House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic released a 35-page memo presenting what they say is overwhelming evidence that David Morens, a top adviser to Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health, deleted records critical to uncovering the origins of COVID-19.  

The memo claims Morens unlawfully deleted emails and used a “secret back channel” to evade transparency.

“(I) learned from our FOIA [sic] lady here how to make emails disappear after I am FOIA’d (sic) but before the search starts,” Morens wrote in a Feb. 24, 2021, email, which was obtained by The New York Post. “Plus I deleted most of those earlier emails after sending them to gmail (sic).”

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Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., and former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield joined NewsNation host Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night to discuss the claims in the memo.

“What we’ve found is basically a cover-up of immense proportions where people were avoiding FOIA inquiries,” said McCormick, who was an emergency room doctor during the thick of the pandemic. “There’s gonna be hell to pay when we actually get to the bottom of this, and I think we’re getting close.”

Redfield said on “CUOMO” that “The problem is it finally was admitted that there are many COVID viruses that this lab (in Wuhan) has that have never seen the light of day, so we don’t know the inventory,”

Is COVID-19 still a ‘pandemic?’

On March 11, 2020, the director-general of the World Health Organization told the world that COVID-19 “can be characterized as a pandemic.”

At the time, fewer than 4,500 people were thought to have died from the virus, but it was spreading quickly, appearing in new cities and countries every day.

Fast forward to 2024, and the virus has taken an estimated 7 million lives. It’s still mutating and sparking new variants, sickening thousands of people, and ultimately killing hundreds every day. But we also have far more tools than we did in 2020. We have several effective vaccines and anti-viral treatments to help combat the disease.

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With all that in mind, is COVID-19 still considered a pandemic-level threat?

A WHO spokesperson told Nexstar “the word ‘pandemic’ is not binary, it’s not on or off.” To make things even more complicated, there’s not one universal agreed-upon definition of a pandemic.

Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health says a pandemic begins when a disease is spreading exponentially and across international borders: “This wide geographical reach is what makes pandemics lead to large-scale social disruption, economic loss, and general hardship.”

On the other hand, a disease is endemic when it’s “consistently present but limited to a particular region.”

With COVID-19, it’s been “consistently present” for years, but isn’t limited to any particular area or population. It still has “wide geographical reach,” but case counts aren’t exploding out of control.

The WHO won’t make a ruling on when the pandemic is “over,” a spokesperson told Nexstar. However, they did declare an end to the Public Health Emergency of International Concern in May 2023. Unlike the term “pandemic,” a public health emergency is clearly defined under international health regulations.

While the WHO stopped short of determining whether COVID-19 still constitutes a pandemic, the agency made it clear the virus “remains a global health threat.”

Alix Martichoux and “The Hill” contributed to this report.