His comments come as CNN reported that senior officials in the Biden administration overseeing an intelligence review into the origins of the coronavirus now believe the theory that the virus accidentally escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan is at least as believable as the possibility that it appeared naturally in the wild – a radical departure from a year ago, when Democrats publicly downplayed the so-called lab leak theory.
“The most likely explanation is a natural evolution from an animal reservoir to a human,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jim Acosta.
“Once you say that, which I think is most likely, you need to make sure to stress that you always keep an open mind for all possibilities, including a lab leak,” he said. he adds.
Acosta urged Fauci to confirm that he thought the theory of natural origins was still the most likely scenario.
Dr. Paul Offit, a senior member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Board, echoed Fauci’s confidence in the theory of natural origins on Saturday.
“I think the chance that this was created by lab workers – that it was designed – is zero,” Offit told Acosta in a separate interview.
Over half of Biden’s renewed 90-day attempt to find answers, the intelligence community remains firmly divided over whether the virus has leaked from a Wuhan lab or has spread naturally from animals to humans in the wild, several sources familiar with the investigation told CNN.
Little new evidence has emerged to move the needle in one direction or another, the people said. But the fact that the lab leak theory is being seriously considered by senior Biden officials is remarkable and comes against a backdrop of growing openness to the idea, even though most of the scientists who study coronaviruses and have investigated it The origins of the pandemic say the evidence strongly supports a natural origin.
Current intelligence reinforces the belief that the virus most likely originated in nature, from animal-human contact, and was not deliberately engineered, the sources said. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility that the virus accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where coronavirus research was being conducted on bats – although many scientists familiar with the research say one such leakage is unlikely.
Natasha Bertrand, Pamela Brown, Katie Bo Williams, and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.