Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, dismissed theories that the Chinese coronavirus was created in a laboratory in Wuhan.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” Fauci said in an interview with National Geographic published Monday.
“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” he added.
Fauci’s remarks come after Pompeo told ABC’s This Week that there was “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab — not a wet market.
“China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories,” he explained to host Martha Raddatz. “These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.”
“While the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that, and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” he added.
In late April, President Trump also indicated that he had a high degree of confidence that the illness came from the Chinese lab.
“Yes. Yes, I have,” the president responded when asked if he believed the illness could have leaked from the lab. “I think that the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves, because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”
“They shouldn’t be making excuses when people make horrible mistakes, especially mistakes that are causing hundreds of thousands of people around the world to die,” he added. “I think the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves.”
On Thursday, the Office of Director of National Intelligence issued a rare statement in which it announced it does not believe that the coronavirus was genetically modified.
“The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” said the top U.S. spy agency. “The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
The Associated Press reported Sunday that China “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in January in order to hoard medical supplies, according to a Department of Homeland Security intelligence report.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the implications of Dr. Fauci’s comments.