Dr. Anthony Fauci is calling for further investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and says he is “not convinced” that it “developed naturally.”
During a United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking event, PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders asked the infectious disease expert, “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?”
“No, actually,” Fauci responded, according to footage obtained by Fox News. “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.”
He added, “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.”
Paul asked him if he could “categorically say COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage” in a lab.
“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 answered.
During the exchange, Paul claimed, without evidence, that the National Institutes of Health had funded gain of function research at the Wuhan Virology Institute. The Hill reports that gain of function research is “a controversial form of study that involves boosting the infectivity and lethality of a pathogen.”
However, Fauci denied that funding went to gain of function research saying, “You are entirely and completely incorrect that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan institute.”
Still, Fauci defended sending funding to the Wuhan Virology Institute, “The SARS-CoV-1 originated in bats in China. It would have been irresponsible of us if we did not investigate the bat viruses and the serology to see who might have been infected.”
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