White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday downplayed the likelihood that the Chinese coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab, dismissing it as a “very, very, very, very remote possibility.”
Speaking on the New York Times podcast Sway, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director said the lab leak theory has become overtly “political.”
“The fact is, I just gave you the reasons from speaking with and dealing with knowledgeable virologists and evolutionary biologists for years and years and years,” Fauci said. “Still, I do keep an open mind that it’s a possibility.”
“So that’s the reason why you say, well, this person says it’s a possibility. And that person says there’s a possibility, almost in the context that I’m disagreeing with them. I’m not. I’m saying it is a possibility. I think it’s a very, very, very, very remote possibility,” he continued. “But it’s a possibility.”
The lab leak theory came back into the spotlight following a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report revealing Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) workers had been hospitalized after exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms in November 2019:
“The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both [Chinese coronavirus] and seasonal illnesses,” the January 15, 2021, State Department fact sheet said.
The alleged report disclosed by the WSJ on Sunday, claimed to be based in part on information “provided by an international partner,” specified that three WIV researchers became sick enough to require hospitalization in November 2019.
“The information that we had coming from the various sources was of exquisite quality. It was very precise. What it didn’t tell you was exactly why they got sick,” one of the WSJ’s anonymous sources said.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has stood as one of Fauci’s biggest critics, expressing the view that he “should be excluded” from any investigation into the origins of the virus.
“But I think really if you want an honest investigation, Dr. Fauci should be excluded because of conflict of interest. I think because he’s been unwise, naive, and in all likelihood has been lying to us, he shouldn’t be in part of government, but he certainly shouldn’t be part of the investigation,” the Kentucky Republican said.
“If you want to have an open and thorough investigation, it can’t include Peter Daszak or Dr. Fauci,” he added.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has also spoken out against Fauci, particularly targeting his correspondence with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and their role in allegedly suppressing the lab leak theory on social media.
“Dr. Fauci was emailing Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook trying to create that narrative, cherry-picking information so that you would only know what they wanted you to know, and there would be a narrative that would fit with this cherry-picked information,” Blackburn explained, noting Fauci’s agency wrote a check to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for coronavirus research:
So many more questions to answer, starting with this one: why did Fauci downplay the idea that COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab? #FauciEmails
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) June 6, 2021