Dr. Anthony Fauci, former White House chief medical adviser, has urged people to keep an open mind and stated that the origin of COVID-19 may never be known. He dismissed the US Energy Department’s conclusion that the virus may have leaked from a Chinese lab, noting that intelligence agencies have not arrived at a definitive answer on what caused the pandemic. Fauci emphasized the need to consider all possibilities and pointed out that while there is no data to support the lab leak theory, it does not mean it couldn’t have happened. He also cited the findings of evolutionary virologists who suggest that the virus likely jumped from animals to humans at a live-animal market in China.
Fauci acknowledged that the US is in a better position than a year ago, but he described the current rate of COVID-related deaths in the country as unacceptably high. He attributed this to low vaccination rates, failure to use masks in crowded indoor places, and not testing when symptoms are present. While he praised the scientific response to the pandemic, he acknowledged shortcomings in the public health response due to problems in real-time virus tracking.
Fauci’s latest comments come after the Energy Department released a report to the White House and Congress stating that it had “low confidence” that the virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci pointed out that the report shows a dichotomy of opinion among experts and does not provide a definitive answer to the question of the virus’s origin. The FBI also reached a similar conclusion with “moderate confidence,” but four other intelligence agencies do not agree with the lab-leak theory.
In October 2021, the National Institutes of Health admitted to funding gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan facility. Despite this, the Biden administration defended Fauci, stating that attacks by Republicans have been counterproductive and unhelpful.