Monday's announcement from National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins came as a shock to some, especially as the agency is now facing controversy after leaked documents linked it to coronavirus studies being conducted in China's Wuhan virology lab, where COVID is believed to have escaped and caused a pandemic. But Collins insists that his resignation has nothing to do with such controversies.
"People are always sort of looking for some kind of cause and effect here. I want to absolutely assure you...that it had nothing to do with my decision," Collins, whose tenure as the NIH director will have lasted 12 years, told Fox News' "Your World" host Neil Cavuto on Tuesday, as per Breitbart.
When asked by Cavuto if the "timing" of his resignation at the end of the year have anything to do with the possible source of the COVID virus in Wuhan and whether NIH funding was involved in developing the dangerous coronavirus, the 71-year-old said negative.
"I also want to say that while this is an important issue, that we need to understand what happened, how did this virus get started in China, that our funding of that research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology was a million miles away in terms of the genome of the virus that we're talking about," Collins explained of the NIH's involvement in funding the Chinese coronavirus lab from which COVID is believed to have escaped.
Collins argued, "To draw that connection is frankly absolutely not supportable by the data. And I do wish people would look more closely at that and recognize that that's not an area that is going to give us an answer to how SARS-CoV-2 got started."
According to another Breitbart report, Collins believes that COVID had a "natural origin, starting in a bat, maybe traveling through an intermediate host" but said that he "can't rule out" how "secretly, the Wuhan Institute got that virus and was studying it and had a lab accident and it got loose."
Collins, however, immediately said that "I have no evidence at all to support that."
The NIH director also expressed his wishes for the Chinese government to be transparent enough to share their data on lab records and hospital records on those who first fell ill with COVID back in November 2019. Collins lamented, "They don't seem willing to do that."
While Collins has officially announced his resignation, another high profile individual involved in the Wuhan lab leak theory is being called upon to resign. That person is Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance, the organization responsible for assigning federal funds into various research grants, including the one for the Wuhan virology lab where coronavirus research is being conducted.
According to Newsweek, Daszak is now facing calls to quit from ten researchers across the world, including four members of the Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19 (DRASTIC), an organization that uncovered details surrounding Wuhan's coronavirus research and Daszak's collaboration with the Chinese virology institute's bat virologist Shi Zhengli.
Daszak maintains that the Wuhan lab leak theory is "preposterous," "baseless," and "pure baloney," despite evidence pointing to its likelihood.