THREE researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WI) in critical need of hospital care in November 2019, months before China disclosed the COVID-19 pandemic, has triggered Dr. Fauci’s suspicion of non-natural cause of COVID-19.
The Disease expert’s recent suspicion of complicity of Chinese experts in the emergence of coronavirus stems largely on report which provides fresh details on the number of researchers affected, the timing of their illnesses, and their hospital visits and the possibility of the virus – escaping from the laboratory.
The report came on the eve of a meeting of the World Health Organisation’s decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
A previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report backed growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the COVID-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory
A National Security Council spokeswoman had no comment on the Journal’s report but said the Biden administration continued to have ‘serious questions about the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its origins within the Peoples Republic of China.’
She said the U.S. government was working with the WHO and other member states to support an expert-driven evaluation of the pandemic’s origins ‘that is free from interference or politicization.’
‘We’re not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2, but we’ve been clear that sound and technically credible theories should be thoroughly evaluated by international experts,’ she said.
The Journal said current and former officials familiar with the intelligence about the lab researchers expressed a range of views about the strength of the report’s supporting evidence, with one unnamed person saying it needed ‘further investigation and additional corroboration.’
The United States, Norway, Canada, Britain and other countries in March expressed concerns about the WHO-led COVID-19 origins study, and called for further investigation and full access to all pertinent human, animal and other data about the early stages of the outbreak.
Washington is keen to ensure greater cooperation and transparency by China, according to a source familiar with the effort.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on yesterday.
On Sunday, China’s foreign ministry noted that a WHO-led team had concluded a lab leak was extremely unlikely after a visit in February to the virology institute.
“The U.S. continues to hype the lab leak theory,’ the ministry said in response to a request for comment by the Journal. ‘Is it actually concerned about tracing the source or trying to divert attention?”
The Trump administration had said it suspected the virus may have escaped from a Chinese lab, which Beijing denies.
A State Department fact sheet released near the end of the Trump administration had said ‘the U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.’ It did not say how many researchers.
China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the WHO-led team probing the origins of the pandemic, according to one of the team´s investigators, Reuters reported in February, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began.
The World Health Organisation’s decision-making body is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 at a meeting later this week.
Earlier on Sunday, Dr Anthony Fauci revealed he is ‘not convinced’ that COVID-19 developed naturally and called for an open investigation into its origins as China faces mounting pressure to provide transparency on the issue.
Fauci, the nation’s leading expert in infectious diseases, explained his uncertainty during a PolitiFact event on May 11 entitled: United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking.
‘There’s a lot of cloudiness around the origins of COVID-19 still, so I wanted to ask, are you still confident that it developed naturally?’ PolitiFact managing editor Katie Sanders asked Fauci.
‘No actually,’ he replied. ‘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.’
Dr Anthony Fauci revealed he is ‘not convinced’ the novel coronavirus developed naturally during a PolitiFact event on May 11 (pictured)
Fauci continued: ‘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.’
Fauci’s appearance at the event came hours after he was grilled on the same topic during a tense Senate hearing.
‘Will you in front of this group categorically say that the COVID-19 virus could not have occurred by serial passage in a laboratory?’ Sen Rand Paul (R – Kentucky) had asked Fauci.
The NIH director replied: ‘I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done, and I’m fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China.’
Fauci also unequivocally refuted Paul’s suggestion that the NIH had funneled money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology – the Chinese lab accused of playing a role in the COVID-19 outbreak.