Republicans have slammed Dr Anthony Fauci for ‘lying’ about the origins of COVID after an Energy Department report found it was most likely from a Wuhan lab leak.
Lawmakers tore into the former chief medical adviser after he repeatedly shot down the claim during and after the pandemic.
But the 82-year-old broke his silence on Monday and again urged caution in believing the report, saying Americans need to keep an ‘open mind to all possibilities’.
The Wall Street Journal report revealed this weekend that the US Energy Department now believes the virus that took over the world in 2020 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), in China.
Fauci told the Boston Globe on Monday: ‘We must all keep an open mind to all possibilities’ about the origins of the coronavirus, but added that ‘we may never know.’
‘I don’t see any data for a lab leak,’ Fauci said in the interview. ‘That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened.
‘But evolutionary virologists published a study in the peer-reviewed journal Science with data that ‘rather strongly suggests it was a natural occurrence’ — a virus that leaped from animals to humans.’
The FBI concluded in 2021 that the virus leaked from a lab and said it did so with ‘moderate confidence’.
The Energy Department has switched its position and done so with ‘low confidence’, the WSJ reported.
US officials told the publication that although both departments are in agreement, they formed their conclusions for different reasons.
Fauci on Monday said although the FBI and the Department of Energy believe a lab leak was to blame, ‘four other intelligence agencies believe it was a natural occurrence.’
He called for ‘openness and transparency’ as well as cooperation from China over the outbreak.
‘There needs to be a lot more investigation into the origin,’ he said. ‘It’s very difficult to do if you don’t have access to the location in which it occurred.’
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning blasted what she termed ‘politicization’ of theories on the origins of COVID-19, after an Energy Department analysis that pointed to possibility of a leak from the Wuhan lab
The FBI also has expertise in disease and virology as it hires microbiologists and immunologists and part of its efforts to protect the country against bioterrorism and weapons.
Congressional Republicans, who have previously talked up the lab leak theory, seized on the new report as they slammed Fauci on Monday.
‘Anthony Fauci lied, and millions of people died,’ Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted. ‘For years, Anthony Fauci and Biden officials called this a conspiracy.’
Sen. John Kennedy tweeted: ‘Remember when I asked Dr. Fauci how he knew that China didn’t lie to him and use American money for gain-of-function research in Wuhan? Fauci told me, ‘you never know.’ Maybe we’re getting closer to knowing.’
Sen. Rand Paul retweeted a reporter who wrote: ‘@RandPaul asked Fauci about a lab leak. He denied it. Repeatedly.’
His wife Kelley tweeted about a time when Fauci tweeted at her husband writing: ‘Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect. The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.’
Kelley wrote: ‘Fauci lied. He knew NIH and NIAID money was sent to Wuhan via intermediary EcoHealth Alliance.’
Former Trump administration official Monica Crowley tweeted: ‘Fauci and the rest of the COVID criminal cartel didn’t ‘get everything wrong.
They knew the truth and lied, destroying countless lives & the health of the nation. On purpose. Instead of being vilified and prosecuted, they were celebrated. There must be justice.’
Rep. Byron Donalds tweeted that he’s looking forward to questioning Fauci: ‘Dr. Fauci sought the limelight on the backs of the American people, their businesses, education, & quality of life. From magazine covers, Sunday shows, & elitist receptions, he ignored the science to clench power & clout. I have many questions, & I look forward to asking them.’
On Sunday, the official House Republican Twitter account posted a picture of Fauci with the words: ‘Accountability is coming.’
The Energy Department made its judgment with ‘low confidence’ in a classified intelligence report recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress, the Journal said, citing people who had read the intelligence report.
The agency’s change of tune is important because the agency is known for its expertise and oversees various US laboratories, some of which carry out biological research.
President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Sunday there were a ‘variety of views in the intelligence community’ on the pandemic’s origins.
‘A number of them have said they just don’t have enough information,’ Sullivan told CNN.
Officials in the East Asian nation disputed the findings.
Chinese officials also responded to the report with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning accusing unnamed parties of trying to smear or vilify China.
The question of whether the global outbreak began with a spillover from wildlife sold at the market or leaked out of the Wuhan lab just eight miles across the Yangtze River has given rise to fierce debate about how to prevent the next pandemic. New studies point to a natural spillover at the Huanan wildlife market. Positive swab samples of floors, cages and counters also track the virus back to stalls in the southwestern corner of the market (bottom left), where animals with the potential to harbor Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time (bottom right)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning accused unnamed parties of trying to smear or vilify China – even amid continued calls for China to provide full access to information from its Wuhan facility.
‘Certain parties should stop rehashing the ‘lab leak’ narrative, stop smearing China and stop politicizing origins-tracing,’ she said during a press briefing Monday.
‘The origin of the novel coronavirus is a scientific issue and should not be politicized.’
She talked up Chinese cooperation with investigating agencies, although in 2021 China rejected a World Health Organization effort to hold a second phase of its investigation.
The group has denied abandoning its inquiry amid China’s obstacles.
While the lab leak theory was initially dismissed as conspiracy and xenophobic, a growing number of scientists have come around to the idea the virus may have escaped during an accident at the WIV.
The research facility is less than 10 miles from an animal slaughter market where the first series of human cases were clustered.
Some experts also claim Covid’s unique spike protein, which it uses to infect people, shows hallmarks of engineering.
But others have deemed those scenarios unlikely and say that there is some indirect evidence that Covid did jump from animals at the Huanan Seafood Market, where animals known to harbor Covid including raccoon dogs, hedgehogs, rats and squirrels, were kept in squalid conditions.
Direct evidence for a natural or man-made origin has yet to emerge.
After the eruption of the pandemic, Chinese officials were found to have wiped crucial databases from the lab and stifled independent investigations into the facility when questions started to be asked about its involvement.
The Energy Department has reversed its position and concluded based on new intelligence that the Covid-19 virus most likely leaked from a Chinese research lab. Pictured is the Wuhan Institute of Virology in February 2021
Researchers who fell ill with a mysterious flu-like virus months before the official Covid timeline were silenced or disappeared.
One of its chief scientists was nicknamed the ‘Bat Lady’ for her extensive work on coronaviruses like Covid.
In January the US Office of Inspector General openly criticized the National Institutes of Health for failing to properly keep up with US-funded virus experiments in China in the run up to the outbreak.
The federal audit looked at three taxpayer-funded research grants awarded to EcoHealth Alliance, run by British scientist Peter Daszak, between 2014 and 2021.
It found the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and EcoHealth failed to ‘understand the nature of the research conducted, identify potential problem areas, and take corrective action’.
‘With improved oversight, NIH may have been able to take more timely corrective actions to mitigate the inherent risks associated with this type of research,’ the report added.
I still want to know who the carrier was that crossed the Pond and went to a nursing home in Washington State and shed the virus there. I believe it was deliberate. That location was the first to report a virus killing old and sickly patients. Who brought it in the door from China?