National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has denied downplaying the Wuhan lab leak theory that has recently become more credible due to new reports and findings. Dr. Fauci spoke at the recent Wall Street Journal Tech Health event during which he said that it was "preposterous" for people to accuse him of downplaying the Wuhan lab leak theory for political reasons.
The Wall Street Journal reported how Dr. Fauci recounted that he gathered a team of scientists to make an analysis on the Wuhan lab leak when the theory that viruses can be "manipulated" first came about in February 2020. However, the scientists concluded that the virus had most likely traveled from animal to human. Dr. Fauci insists that he is still open to the possibility that COVID-19 had indeed come from a Wuhan lab leak.
But many are not convinced that he is indeed keeping "an open mind." In fact, some Republican lawmakers have accused Dr. Fauci of downplaying the Wuhan lab leak following the release of hundreds of his emails, including one in which EcoHealth Alliance executive Peter Daszak, who was also involved in the questionable World Health Organization probe into the Wuhan lab leak earlier this year, thanked Dr. Fauci for downplaying the Wuhan lab leak and for suggesting it had a zoonotic nature, a claim recently debunked by experts and also by investigations led during Trump's time.
Many believe that EcoHealth Alliance and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) have a close relationship, especially when the NIH had funneled taxpayer money into the non-profit, which in turn provided $600,000 worth of grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to support gain of function research on viruses. But Dr. Fauci denies downplaying the Wuhan lab leak theory.
"You can misconstrue it however you want," Dr. Fauci said to CNN, as reported by BBC. "that email was from a person to me saying 'thank you' for whatever it is he thought I said, and I said that I think the most likely origin is a jumping of species."
Dr. Fauci added that until there is no firm evidence that the virus did not escape from a virology lab, he will stick to the theory that COVID-19 came from a virus that jumped from animals to humans. He said, "I still do think it is, at the same time as I'm keeping an open mind that it might be a lab leak."
Dr. Fauci also came to the defense of the Chinese scientists, saying, "The idea I think is quite farfetched that the Chinese deliberately engineered something so that they could kill themselves as well as other people. I think that's a bit far out."
The Wuhan lab leak theory had gained credibility in the past months, as in May, a new intelligence report surfaced, revealing that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China had fallen ill with COVID-like symptoms as early as November. Earlier this month, British intelligence declared that the Wuhan lab leak theory is "feasible" and committed to working with their allies around the world, including the U.S., to determine the true origin of COVID-19.