Fauci Doubles Down On COVID Origins, Says Natural Occurrence ‘More Likely’ Than Lab Leak

[Screenshot/MSNBC News/"The Beat With Ari Melber"]

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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Former White House senior medical adviser Anthony Fauci doubled down on his position on COVID-19 origins, saying a natural occurrence is “more likely” than a lab leak Tuesday on MSNBC.

Fauci appeared on “The Beat With Ari Melber” to discuss the origins of COVID-19 and a recent New York Times opinion piece which says there is no “strong evidence” to support a natural beginning of the disease. Following a breakdown of the report, MSNBC host Ari Melber questioned the former White House adviser on whether it is “more likely than not” that COVID-19 “came from that lab.”

“No,” Fauci said. “I think that the New York Times article was based on no science at all. If you talk to 100 virologists and read that article, there was no scientific basis for what she said. But let’s put that aside for a moment. I’m very surprised The Times even let that opinion piece out.”

Melber pushed back on Fauci listing other examples from different outlets challenging the idea that the origins arose naturally and supporting the lab leak theory. (RELATED: ‘Tighter Lipped Than The CIA’: Rand Paul Says NIH Won’t Reveal Key Discussions About COVID-19)

“Let’s just very quickly — first of all, we have to keep an open mind, we don’t know where it [came] from,” Fauci responded. “It could’ve come from a lab, I have an open mind. It could have come from a natural occurrence. But four of the intelligence agencies believe it much more likely came from a natural occurrence.”

“And you believe as of what you know now that is more likely? Natural?” Melber asked.

“Well let me tell you what I believe — I believe you have to keep an open mind,” Fauci continued. “The thing that gets mixed up in this, Ari, is that the NIH years ago funded a grant to do some surveillance for bad viruses. Which was a grant that was appropriate because we knew that the original SARS came from a bat to a civet cat, to a human. So the natural thing, it would have been almost irresponsible not to try and figure out what else was out there.”

“The viruses that were studied under the NIH grant were evolutionarily so different from SARS that any evolutionary virologist worth their salt will tell you it could not possibly have come from those viruses because the precursor virus wasn’t anything near evolutionary SARS,” Fauci said. “Having said that, put that to bed and say, could it have come from a lab in China? Absolutely. That’s the reason why we keep an open mind.”

“But if you look at what evolutionary virologists do and the data that looks at ‘is it a laboratory leak’ versus ‘is it a natural occurrence from an animal reservoir,'” he added. “Overwhelmingly the evolutionary virologists say it is more likely, not definitive, no proof, but more likely to come from a natural reservoir. What is the data to show that it came from a lab? I haven’t seen that data. No one has seen it — that’s the reason why I object to the New York Times editorial opinion piece because there was no new data there. Again, underline I keep an open mind, it could have been either.”

The former White House medical adviser continued to deny that original lab leak theories were dismissed as conspiracy theories, despite the Biden administration in 2021 reportedly shutting down a State Department inquiry into this possibility.

Earlier this month Fauci was grilled by lawmakers in Congress over his leadership during the pandemic as he had testified to the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. The former adviser later went on CNN to state that he was shocked by the “level of vitriol” from the GOP members.