Dr. Anthony Fauci is now calling for more investigation into China to uncover the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, a dramatic reversal from his earlier position in which he dismissed theories that COVID-19 emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
What is Fauci saying now?
In a recent interview that received little attention, Fauci was asked by PolitiFact editor Katie Sanders whether he is "still confident that [COVID-19] developed naturally?"
Shockingly, Fauci said he doubts the natural emergence of COVID-19.
"No, actually," Fauci said. "No, I'm not convinced about that. I think that we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we find out to the best of our ability exactly what happened."
"Certainly, the people who've investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could've been something else, and we need to find that out," he continued. "So, you know, that's the reason why I said I'm perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus."
Fauci's admission came while rebuking Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), whom Fauci accused of "conflating" collaborative research with Chinese scientists on SARS viruses with the emergence of COVID-19.
Paul grilled Fauci during a Senate hearing earlier this month on the National Institutes of Health funding some research at the Wuhan virology lab.
What about the lab theory?
The theory that COVID-19 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, either accidentally or intentionally, has been dismissed by the media and many health experts as a conspiracy theory untethered from reality.
Fauci himself denounced the possibility in an interview with National Geographic one year ago.
"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—the way the mutations have naturally evolved," Fauci said last May. "A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that it evolved in nature and then jumped species."
When asked about the possibility of the virus escaping the lab after scientists brought it inside, Fauci responded, "But that means it was in the wild to begin with. 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."
Indeed, the World Health Organization concluded in February after a rushed investigation that it was "extremely unlikely" COVID-19 came from the laboratory.
"Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable," the scientists wrote.
In fact, they highlighted the fact that the WHO, in concluding the pandemic did not originate from the Wuhan lab, did not give the theory "balanced consideration," explaining, "Only 4 of the 313 pages of the report and its annexes addressed the possibility of a laboratory accident."
Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a report last week revealing there is "significant circumstantial evidence" suggesting COVID-19 escaped from the Wuhan lab.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky agreed last week the lab leak theory remains a "possibility" of the pandemic's origin.
(H/T: The Washington Examiner)