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Letters to the Editor — May 21, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top adviser to President Biden on the coronavirus pandemic, said he’s “not convinced” the deadly virus developed naturally and has called for further investigations into where it emerged.
Fauci was asked during a Poynter event, “United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking,” earlier this month about whether he was confident that COVID-19 developed naturally.
“No actually. I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said, according to Fox News.
“Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus,” he added.
The coronavirus was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, and many believe it could have begun in a lab there and escaped.
Fauci was pressed on that theory during a Senate hearing on May 11 and said he would support a further investigation during an exchange with Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas).
“Do you think it’s possible that COVID-19 arose from a lab accident … in Wuhan, and should it be fully investigated?” Marshall, a doctor, asked Fauci.
“That possibility certainly exists, and I am totally in favor of a full investigation of whether that could have happened,” he replied.
A few months after the start of the pandemic last year, Fauci said the virus most likely “evolved in nature and then jumped species,’’ as opposed to being “artificially or deliberately manipulated.”
Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) clashed during the hearing over whether the US government funded “gain of function” research at the Wuhan lab – a process of making a virus more potent in a controlled lab setting as a way to generate better vaccines to defeat it.
“Sen. Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely and completely incorrect … the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute,” Fauci said.
When Paul pushed Fauci: “Government scientists like yourself who favor gain function,’’ Fauci interjected, “I don’t favor gain-of-function research in China.
Last Thursday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a report claiming there is “significant circumstantial evidence” that the coronavirus originated from a leak at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that the US government “may have funded or collaborated” in the research that led to it.
“International efforts to discover the true source of the virus, however, have been stymied by a lack of cooperation from the People’s Republic of China,” the Republicans wrote in the report.
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