Health

Fauci Wanes On COVID-19 Lab Theory

(Photo by GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top medical adviser to President Joe Biden, is no longer convinced that COVID-19 was brought about by a natural origin.

“No, actually … no I’m not convinced about that,” Fauci said to PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders, who asked if he was “still confident that it developed naturally.” The answer is a marked shift from Fauci’s comments last year to National Geographic, when he said there is little scientific evidence to support the lab-leak theory.

“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,” Fauci said in May 2020.

He also dismissed the theory that the virus could’ve been discovered in the wild, brought back to a lab and then accidentally leaked: “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.”

When asked by Sanders about COVID-19’s origin, Fauci immediately referenced back to his recent spat with Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul during his testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. (RELATED: Where’s The CDC Guidance For People Who Recovered From COVID-19?)

During that hearing, Paul suggested that the National Institutes of Health had funded gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which could have contributed to an accidental lab leak. Fauci emphatically denied the charge, telling Paul he was “completely incorrect.”

“I think the real unfortunate aspect of what Sen. Paul did, is he was conflating research in a collaborative way with Chinese scientists. You’d almost have to say, if we did not do that, we would almost be irresponsible.”

The lab-leak theory, once dismissed by most mainstream sources as a conspiracy theory, has gained increasing momentum in recent weeks. A number of experts and officials have either outright supported the theory or refused to rule it out. (RELATED: ANALYSIS: Did Your Tax Dollars Pay For COVID-19?)

The World Health Organization’s initial inquiry into the virus origins early this year dismissed the theory, but the body has since backtracked and acknowledged it may be possible.