Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, rejected the notion that the CCP virus, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is man-made.
Fauci made the remarks to The National Geographic in an in-depth interview that ranged from virus origin theories to lighter topics prompted by questions like “Wow, how do you unwind?”
Asked whether he believed the virus was made in—or accidentally released from—a Chinese lab, Fauci said there was overwhelming evidence it came from the wild.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats, and what’s out there now is very, very strongly leaning toward this [virus] could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” he said, adding that the mutation pattern of the virus is highly suggestive of a natural origin.
“A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that it evolved in nature and then jumped species,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.
A widespread theory, reiterated by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday, is that the virus made the leap from animal to human at one of Wuhan’s wildlife wet markets.
Some claim the virus occurred naturally but was brought into the Wuhan lab for study, from where it escaped, a theory Fauci dismissed as a “circular argument.”
“That means it was in the wild to begin with. That’s why I don’t get what they’re talking about [and] why I don’t spend a lot of time going in on this circular argument,” he said.
The Trump administration is investigating whether negligence or wilful action on China’s part fanned the flames of the pandemic.
Both President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have in recent weeks blamed Beijing for concealing early data about the spread of the virus in China, something they say wasted precious response time and hamstrung efforts to fight the pandemic.
Trump said on April 30 that he had seen convincing evidence that the deadly bug originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, while Pompeo told ABC News on Sunday there was “enormous evidence” the virus originated in the Wuhan lab. Pompeo did not disclose specifics, saying only that “China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories.”
A recent report by The Epoch Times concludes, based on expert interviews, that the CCP virus pandemic highlights a history of mismanagement, corruption, and lack of ethics in China’s virology labs.
Meanwhile, America’s intelligence agencies said in a rare public statement that they agreed with “the widespread scientific consensus” that the virus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but are still looking into whether the Wuhan lab played any role in its transmission.
“The IC [intelligence community] 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 Office of Director of National Intelligence said in an April 30 statement.
Besides accusing the Chinese Communist Party of hiding facts about the outbreak, Pompeo hinted at future steps to hold it “accountable” for the economic and social fallout of the pandemic.
“I’m still concerned that the Chinese Communist Party is not telling us about all of what’s taking place in all of the labs, in fact each of the labs, all across China today,” he said in an interview with Fox News.
“What the Chinese Communist Party did here, in not preventing the spread of this around the world, they are responsible for. America needs to hold them accountable,” Pompeo added.
Correction: The headline has been updated to more accurately reflect Fauci’s comments. The Epoch Times regrets the error.