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The Washington Post has obtained more than 800 pages of emails to and from Anthony Fauci, the senior US health official who is now chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Anthony Fauci.

Anthony Fauci. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

The paper reports that the emails offer a window into the chaos, panic and confusion of the time, and of the considerable difficulties Fauci faced as a prominent figure in a Covid task force serving Donald Trump.

As Fauci recently told the Post, “I was getting every single kind of question, mostly people who were a little bit confused about the mixed messages that were coming out of the White House and wanted to know what’s the real scoop.

“I have a reputation that I respond to people when they ask for help, even if it takes a long time. And it’s very time consuming, but I do.”

The Post obtained the emails through the Freedom of Information Act. Some exchanges are with George Gao, a top Chinese health official.

“Lets work together to get the virus out of the earth,” Gao says in one message.

“We will get through this together,” Fauci replies.

US-China tensions have been high throughout the pandemic but the US is now investigating whether the virus, discovered in Wuhan province, came from animals, as has been the scientific community’s position for some time, or whether there is truth to the theory that the virus was being studied in a laboratory and escaped.

In a column for the Guardian on Tuesday, the author Thomas Frank said that if true, the laboratory leak theory “is the kind of thing that could obliterate the faith of millions” of Americans who have followed government advice throughout the pandemic.

In another exchange between Fauci and Gao, the Chinese official refers to “some news (hope it is fake) that [you] are being attacked by some people. Hope you are well under such [an] irrational situation”.

“Thank you for your kind note,” Fauci replies. “All is well despite some crazy people in this world.”

Fauci was often at odds with Trump and others who sought to play down the severity of the threat to US public health. The scientist ended up having to hire security.

Here’s our own interview with Fauci, published yesterday: