Dr. Anthony Fauci was in perfect harmony with a top researcher in Wuhan, China, as he continued to defend the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab against those who believe the coronavirus could have leaked from it.
Fauci, during an interview last week, cited a paper that he said made it much more likely that the virus had a natural origin, according to the Washington Examiner.
The same study was part of the ammunition used by Yuan Zhiming, director of the biosafety lab in Wuhan. The two were pushing back against a theory dating back to the Trump administration that the novel coronavirus leaked from the lab — a theory that was at first discredited by Trump’s opponents but which has since gained ground.
The paper, titled “The Origins of SARS-CoV-2: A Critical Review,” comes down on the side of a natural origin for the virus.
“We contend that there is a substantial body of scientific evidence supporting a zoonotic origin for SARS-COV-2,” the paper read.
“While the possibility of a laboratory accident cannot be entirely dismissed, and may be near impossible to falsify, this conduit for emergence is highly unlikely … There is currently no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 has a laboratory origin,” researchers wrote.
“The suspicion that SARS-CoV-2 might have a laboratory origin stems from the coincidence that it was first detected in a city that houses a major virological laboratory that studies coronaviruses.”
The study’s disclosure and acknowledgments sections note that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases all provide funding to some of the groups whose scientists participated in the study.
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The CDC is overseen by a Biden administration appointee, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Fauci has veered with the prevailing winds on the issue of the origins of the virus, having at various times dismissed the lab leak concept entirely, while at other times admitting it could be a possibility. His current position is that he is characterizing a lab leak as highly doubtful.
“I keep an open mind and say that we should consider all possibilities until we definitively prove one. But I, together with many highly qualified vaccinologists — and virologists, I mean — including a recent paper by 21 internationally renowned virologists and evolutionary biologists from all over the world, indicate that, although we keep an open mind that it’s possible that it could be, as they say, a lab leak, that the most likely explanation is a natural evolution from an animal reservoir to a human,” Fauci said.
“Once you say that, which I believe is the more likely, you’ve gotta make sure you emphasize that you still keep an open mind for all possibilities, including the lab leak.”
Fauci has suggested the ethos of the authors of the brief paper should lend weight to its conclusion.
“A recent paper was put out by 21 very well internationally respected virologists and evolutionary biologists who said the same thing I’m saying,” he said.
“I rely on people like that who have great experience in this — that’s what they do every single day — who again, are open-minded in saying it’s conceivable that you may have had a lab leak … But they feel that the more likely explanation is a natural evolution from an animal host to a human,” he said.
Yuan said the paper is evidence no follow-up study is needed to investigate the lab leak theory, claiming that the 21 authors speak for the wider body of all the world’s experts.
“There has been a general consensus by the academic community that the coronavirus was naturally generated, and the experts issued another statement saying that no evidence can support the theory of laboratory leak from China,” Yuan said.
“On the 7th of July, 21 scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries published an article stating that there is no evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 originated in the laboratory.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said dismissing the lab leak theory, which the WHO initially did, was “premature.”
Richard Ebright, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, said the paper “contains no new information and no new analysis.”
“The authors assert that ‘there is a substantial body of scientific evidence supporting a zoonotic origin for SARS-CoV-2,’ but they provide no such evidence,” Ebright said.
“The authors set up a straw man as the alternative hypothesis, asserting that the alternative hypothesis is escape of a known virus from a laboratory, and neglecting the fact that the alternative hypothesis, as stated repeatedly over the last 16 months, also encompasses possible contact with an unknown virus during field collection in bat colonies, during field survey of villagers near bat colonies, during transportation of samples from bat colonies, or during laboratory processing of samples from bat colonies.”
“Using the authors’ inappropriate straw-man definitions, an infection of laboratory staffers with an unknown virus during field collection in bat colonies, field survey of villagers near bat colonies, transportation of samples from bat colonies, or laboratory processing of samples from bat colonies would count as ‘zoonotic origin,’” he said.
“This is the same verbal legerdemain as in the WHO report, and bespeaks the same intent to mislead as in the WHO report.”
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