Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, said he is "not convinced" that the coronavirus developed naturally and suggested that the origins of the virus be investigated.
During an event, United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking, Fauci was asked if he was still confident that COVID-19 was developed naturally following speculation from other health experts and public officials that it was created in a lab.
No actually. I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened. Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. 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.
The coronavirus was first reported in late 2019 in Wuhan, China and many U.S. public officials have said they believe there is reason to believe the virus came from a lab leak.
The White House shares Fauci's view that the the origins of COVID-19 need to be investigated, also adding that the Biden has discussed publicly and privately that China has "not transparent from the beginning."
I will say that our view continues to be that there needs to be an independent, transparent investigation — and that needs to happen with the cooperation and data provided from the Chinese government.
Last week, the World Health Organization said the likelihood of a lab leak was "extremely unlikely." However, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said in March that the research team’s analysis on the possibility that the virus escaped from a lab was not "extensive enough" and further investigation would be necessary.
Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy.
Fauci’s recent comments are in direct opposition of his thoughts on the origins of the coronavirus a year ago. He told National Geographic in May 2020 that, based on the scientific evidence, he did not think a lab leak was a possible reason for the virus outbreak.
If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated. Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.