John Hinderaker of the Power Line blog examines a new assessment of the government response to COVID-19, using the headline “It was politics, all the way down.”

That is the conclusion of the House’s Select Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in a report issued today on early efforts to squelch speculation that the coronavirus may have escaped from the Wuhan lab. The report focuses on the famous conference call of February 1, 2020, among an international group of virus experts, and the production, rapidly thereafter, of a report titled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” which became one of the most cited and most influential scientific papers ever written.

The flurry of activity that gave rise to Proximal Origin was occasioned by the idea, then gaining currency, that the covid virus may have been the result of experimentation conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The purpose of the scientists’ effort, culminating in Proximal Origin, was to squelch investigation of the lab leak theory.

The House report is persuasive on several levels. It shows that U.S. officials with little expertise in the relevant field, Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci, were a driving force–perhaps the driving force–behind the effort. Fauci had a dog in the fight, as he was the key advocate, within the U.S. government, for conducting gain of function research.

The House report, based on documents produced by the authors of Proximal Origin and 25 hours of recorded interviews, demonstrates that politics played a major role in the scientists’ thinking. …

… The House report shows that Proximal Origin was first submitted to Nature magazine for publication, but Nature declined because it didn’t repudiate the laboratory origin theory strongly enough. So the authors re-wrote their paper to crank up their anti-lab leak conclusion, and got it published in Nature Medicine.