Dr Anthony Fauci revealed he was “not convinced” that COVID-19 developed naturally and called for an open investigation into its origins as China faces increasing pressure to provide transparency on the question.
Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, explained his uncertainty during a PolitiFact event on May 11 titled: United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking.
“There is still a lot of cloudiness surrounding the origins of COVID-19, so I wanted to ask you, are you still convinced that it developed naturally? PolitiFact editor-in-chief Katie Sanders asked Fauci.
“No actually,” he replied. “I’m not convinced, I think we should continue to investigate what happened in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened. “
Dr Anthony Fauci revealed he was ‘not convinced’ the new coronavirus had developed naturally during a PolitiFact event on May 11 (pictured)
Fauci continued: “Certainly the people who investigated it say that it was probably the emergence of an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we have to find out.
“So, you know, that’s the reason I said I fully support any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus. ”
Fauci’s appearance at the event came hours after he was asked about the same topic in a tense Senate hearing.
“Are you going to say categorically in front of this group that the COVID-19 virus could not have occurred by serial passage in a laboratory? Sen Rand Paul (R – Kentucky) had asked Fauci.
The NIH director replied, “I have no information on what the Chinese may have done, and I fully support any further investigation into what happened in China. ”
Fauci also unequivocally refuted Paul’s suggestion that the NIH funneled money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology – the Chinese lab accused of playing a role in the COVID-19 outbreak.
Republicans claimed to have ‘significant circumstantial evidence’ linking COVID-19 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured)
Senator Rand Paul clashed with Fauci over the origins of COVID-19 during a Senate hearing on May 11
During his segment at the PolitiFact event, Fauci criticized Paul for “mistaking … almost irresponsibly” Chinese scientists with collaborative research on Sars-Cov-1, which emerged in China in the early years. 2000.
Fauci’s appearance at the event received little media attention at the time, but was brought back into the spotlight over the weekend after the White House renewed its call for an independent and “transparent investigation. On the origins of COVID.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday called for exploring the “root causes” of the pandemic after Republicans released an interim report claiming there was “significant circumstantial evidence” that the virus was from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“I caution you against rebutting a negative point out there which is never the responsible approach in our opinion when it comes to getting to the root causes of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, ”she said. in response to a question about the report.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called for a transparent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus
“We continue to believe that an independent and transparent investigation is necessary,” she said.
She said the investigation required “cooperation and data provided by the Chinese government” – which rejected the administration’s requests to share them fully.
“We don’t have enough information at this stage to make an assessment,” she continued.
Wuhan Laboratory Funding Fact Check
USA Today has found it “false” that any US funding led to the COVID outbreak.
In 2014, the NIH approved a grant to the EcoHealth Alliance designated for research on “Understanding the Risk of Emergence of the Bat Coronavirus”. The project involved collaborating with researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study coronaviruses in bats and the risk of potential transfer to humans.
A total of $ 3,378,896 in NIH funding was directed from the government to the project.
During the two NIH-approved grants for EcoHealth Alliance, the Wuhan Institute received about $ 600,000 from the NIH, according to Robert Kessler, an EcoHealth Alliance spokesperson.
The funding was a fee for the collection and analysis of viral samples, the group said. He was oriented towards SARS research.
Under the grant approved in 2014, approximately $ 133,000 was sent to the institute in the first four years and approximately $ 66,000 last year. In the second grant approved in 2019, around $ 76,000 was budgeted for the Wuhan Institute, although no money was sent until the grant ended.
The grant ended in April 2020.
– USA Today Fact Check
Asked when Biden would call Chinese President Xi Jinping, Psaki replied that “we have made this call publicly many times” and “conveyed it privately. And we certainly indicated that they weren’t transparent from the start.
Republicans on the panel made their statement after infectious Fauci clashed with Sen Paul over his claims of a Chinese lab leak – and statements on a conspiracy theory that US support was involved.
Many top scientists, without ruling out the possibility of a human-caused event, point to the likelihood that the virus will mutate and jump from animals to humans, as has happened with many previous coronaviruses.
The report states that US agencies and academic institutions “may have funded or collaborated on research into the job posting – after Fauci specifically declined government support.”
“Based on publicly available information, the possibility that the outbreak stemmed from accidental exposure to WIV has not been refuted,” he says.
He cites competing theories – including the virus coming from a wet Chinese market, jumping from human contact with a bat or other species, or even through handling imported frozen food – but then says it focuses on just one.
“Although Republicans on the Committee recognize that there are different theories on the origins of COVID-19, this review focuses on WIV as a possible source of origin,” he said, referring to the Wuhan lab .
The report was released to the public on Wednesday after it was first obtained by Fox News.
The report, although cites “significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” without providing any direct evidence of this fact.
He says China has “a history of leaks in research labs resulting in infections” and says the lab is conducting “dangerous research”, which risks “causing an accidental epidemic.”
The report follows President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on China following the virus outbreak. He has often referred to covid-19 as the “Chinese virus” in the run-up to elections and called it “kung flu”.
He cites public reports that Chinese researchers were sick in the fall of 2019 with “COVID-10-like symptoms.”
“In contrast, little circumstantial evidence has emerged to support the PRC’s claim that COVID-19 was a natural event, having jumped from another species to humans,” according to the report, although it did not or not just the Chinese Communist Party asking for it.
Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli (left) is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province of China, on February 23, 2017. Two Chinese laboratories are located near a wet market in Wuhan which, scientists say allowed covid-19 to proliferate
Earlier this month, Paul and Fauci had a tense exchange during a Senate hearing, where Paul accused the United States of potentially funding ‘gain-of-office’ research bats that could have gone wrong. .
“This gain-of-function research was funded by the NIH. … Dr Fauci, do you still support the NIH funding funding for the Wuhan lab?
“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are absolutely wrong that the NIH has never funded and does not currently fund gain-of-office research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” said retorted Fauci.
“Could you rule out a lab breakout?” The answer in this case is probably not. Would you categorically say in front of this group that COVID-19 could not have occurred by serial passage in a laboratory? Paul asked Fauci.
“I have no account of what the Chinese may have done and I am fully in favor of further investigating what happened in China,” replied Fauci, director of the National Institute of allergies and infectious diseases.
“However, I repeat, the NIH and NIAD have categorically not funded the gain of functional research to be carried out at the Wuhan Institute. ”
Fauci also told him, “I totally agree that you should investigate the origin of the virus. But again, we did not fund the gain of functional research on this virus at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. No matter how many times you say it, it hasn’t happened.
A World Health Organization report with the collaboration of China called “zoonotic transmission” from animals to humans “likely to very likely” as the cause, although the administration blamed the report for ‘be incomplete.