White House senior medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was always open to the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a lab.
Fauci claimed he had “kept an open mind” on the lab-leak theory from the beginning, but had focused on the likelihood that the virus originated from a natural occurrence on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday. He said it is a “distortion” to claim the idea that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was “suppressed.”
“Even if you lean that this is more likely a natural occurrence, we always felt that you got to keep an open mind, all of us. We didn’t get up and start announcing it, but we said, ‘keep an open mind,’ and continue to look. So I think it is a bit of a distortion to say that we deliberately suppressed that.”
Dr. Fauci on COVID lab leak theory: “We’ve always said ‘keep an open mind and continue to look.’ So I think it’s a bit of a distortion to say that we deliberately suppressed that.” pic.twitter.com/20VuUBHt2Y
— The Recount (@therecount) June 16, 2021
In a 2020 interview with National Geographic, Fauci said there is “little evidence” to support the lab-leak theory, but later said he is “not convinced” that COVID-19 came from a natural origin in a May interview with PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders. Fauci’s private emails revealed that he had been notified of the possibility that the virus had been engineered and of the U.S. funding gain-of-function research, according to The Washington Post.
During a May 11 Senate hearing, Fauci denied that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had funded gain-of-function research in order for WIV scientists to experiment with coronaviruses. (RELATED: Fauci Reportedly Walks Back Lab Leak Comments…Waffling Once Again)
While former President Donald Trump’s administration investigated the lab-leak theory, the media and public health experts labeled it a “conspiracy theory” until it was revealed that three WIV lab researchers were infected with an unknown illness in November 2019. The Post edited a 15-month old headline suggesting that the lab-leak theory had been “debunked” on June 1, as part of a flurry of corrections and updates once the theory regained popularity.