Outgoing National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday on CNN’s “The Lead” that the viruses the NIH funded for study in the Wuhan lab could not turn into COVID.
Anchor Jake Tapper said, “So Republicans are taking over the House of Representatives, which means there’s going to be a lot of oversight hearings. Earlier, we heard from the soon-to-be chairman of the committee. And obviously, they’re going to hold hearings on the origins of COVID. You had said you think that it is likely it was a natural development from animal to human but that your mind is open about it possibly being from a lab leak, and the investigation is going to be about specifically whether there’s any connection if there was a lab leak to U.S. investments in virus research at the Wuhan lab. It’s possible, right?
Fauci said, “Well, it’s possible that there’s a lab leak, but if you look at the viruses that the NIH funded, and it was a very small grant, 120, $130,000 a year, granting to study bat viruses in a surveillance way to see what’s out there, if you look at those viruses and you look at what was done with the viruses, it would be essentially molecularly impossible for those viruses to turn into SARS-CoV-2 because they were so evolutionarily distant that I can’t tell you what’s going on in all of China and in other things, but I can tell you for sure that if you look at the viruses that the NIH grant funded to study in a surveillance way, anybody who even has a peripheral understanding of evolutionary virology will tell you these viruses could not turn possibly turn into SARS-CoV-2. So when you talk about a leak, maybe there is a lab leak, but it’s not with the viruses that the NIH was funding. That is almost certain that that is the case.
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