COVID-19 virus: Dr Anthony Fauci fuels lab leak theory, backs ‘next phase of investigation that WHO has done’


Washington: Top US infectious disease expert and the Biden administration`s top medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, has said that the world should continue with the investigation of origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, fueling debate of the lab leak theory.

During a briefing on Tuesday, Dr Anthony Fauci said, “We feel strongly that we should continue with the investigation and go to the next phase of investigation that WHO has done. Because we don’t know 100% what the (virus) origin is, it is imperative that we look and investigate.”

A senior White House coronavirus adviser, Andy Slavitt, said the world needs to “get to the bottom” of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and added that the WHO and China need to do more to reach the definitive answers in the matter.

“It is our position that we need to get to the bottom of this and we need a completely transparent process from China. We need the WHO (World Health Organization) to assist in that matter. We don`t feel like that we have that now,” Andy Slavitt is quoted by ANI as saying during the briefing.

Answering the same question, Dr Fauci, said that they “feel strongly” that the world should continue with the investigation of origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, fueling debate of the lab leak theory.

This statement comes a few days after an explosive Wall Street Journal report stated that three researchers from China`s Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care after they fell ill in November 2019, a month before Beijing reported the first patient with COVID-like symptoms.

According to the report, “The US 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 COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.” 

The revelations come amid growing calls for a fuller probe on whether the COVID-19 virus may have escaped from the Chinese laboratory. It also comes on the eve of a meeting of the WHO decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of investigation into the origin of COVID-19.

Earlier this year, the WHO report determined that the possibility the virus came from a lab was “extremely unlikely,” noting there was “no record” any lab had closely related viruses. 

The probe was criticized by various countries including the US, and UK over its limited access to “complete original data and samples.”

The organization was also accused of being overly deferential to China throughout the course of the study, which was co-authored by 17 Chinese scientists — several of them from state-run institutions.

China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the WHO-led team probing the origins of the pandemic. Beijing has been accused of delaying access to international investigators for months after the initial outbreak, virtually guaranteeing that the lab had been deep-cleaned before any forensic analysis could be done. 

(With Agency Inputs)

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