Dr. Anthony Fauci, the scientific face of the American response to the pandemic, rejected the theory that the coronavirus came from a laboratory in Wuhan, contradicting the president and his secretary of state in a growing confrontation with China.
“The best evidence shows that the virus behind the pandemic was not made in a laboratory in China,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in an exclusive interview with National Geographic published Monday. “Everything about progressive evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in the wild, then jumped species. “
He added that he did not believe the alternative theory that someone discovered a coronavirus in the wild, brought it to a laboratory, and then accidentally triggered it on the public.
Fauci’s statement contradicts a comment from April 30 by President Donald Trump that he had seen convincing evidence that the coronavirus originated from the Wuhan Chinese Institute of Virology (WIV). US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that he saw “huge evidence” to support the theory, but did not elaborate.
The New York Times Last week, the administration also lobbied some within the intelligence community to give weight to the WIV theory. There is not yet publicly available evidence supporting WIV’s involvement in the pandemic.
US intelligence has concluded that the new COVID-19 coronavirus is neither of human origin nor genetically modified, although officials are investigating whether it could have been released from WIV.
China has categorically rejected any accusation that it mismanaged the epidemic or that WIV was involved in the pandemic. Monday, The Global Times – belonging to the official publication of the Chinese Communist Party – published an editorial requiring Pompeo to provide evidence for his complaint, suggesting that he was “bluffing”.
The Chinese government has often dismissed criticism that it mismanaged the epidemic, saying that international critics were just spreading propaganda to distract from their own country’s mistakes during the pandemic.
Trump and Pompeo’s assertion about the WIV laboratory has heightened tensions between the United States and China. Officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have accused China of hiding the gravity of the epidemic early to collect medical supplies.
The DHS report also claimed that Chinese leaders had not deliberately notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of the virus’s contagion status for most of January to minimize its severity.
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to the United States said Newsweek that he viewed the report as another “baseless accusation”.
Regardless, May 1 poll of The Economist and YouGov found that nearly twice as many Republicans as Democrats now regard China as an “enemy” of the state since the start of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States. The poll also found that almost half of all Americans believe the virus was “definitely” or “probably” created in a laboratory. While 29% of Democrats believed this statement, more than two-thirds of Republicans did.
The public feud over the laboratory coincided with the escalation of military tensions. Last Tuesday, the U.S. Navy sailed on a second ship across the South China Seas, contesting China’s claim to the disputed waters. The Chinese Armed Forces, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), have declared that they have expelled the United States’ first ship, the USS Barry.
Chinese military social media has accused the United States of violating “international law and the interests of China’s sovereignty and security” in “provocative acts”, calling sailing operations “incompatible” with the current joint efforts of the international community to fight the Covid-19, “according to South China Morning Post.
“These provocative acts on the part of the United States … severely violated China’s sovereignty and security interests, deliberately increased the risks to regional security, and could easily trigger an unexpected incident.”
However, a Navy spokesman denied that the PLA had forced the USS Barry out of the disputed waters, saying Newsweek Last Wednesday, “all the interactions that took place were in accordance with maritime standards”.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a prominent member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, joins the task force response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, in their doubt about the claim of Trump and Pompeo.
In a Sunday appearance on CBS News’ Facing the nationDr. Birx said there was insufficient evidence to prove that the coronavirus epidemic started after an accident in the Wuhan laboratory.
April 28, Newsweek reported that Scientists funded by NIAID at WIV and other institutions for research on gain of function on bat coronaviruses. WIV’s work on bat coronaviruses explains that the Trump administration is focusing on the laboratory as a possible culprit of the epidemic.
In 2019, NIAID provided support to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to commit $ 3.7 million over six years to WIV for research, including some studies on gain in function. This money came after another $ 3.7 million project over 5 years to study various bat coronaviruses. This project ended in 2019. The NIH canceled the last $ 3.7 million project on Friday, April 24. Politico reported.
Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, noted that the description of the project would have involved improving the bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using genetic engineering techniques.
Ebright and other scientists objected to gain of function research because it risks accidentally releasing the virus from a laboratory and creating a pandemic.
“Determining the molecular Achilles heel of these viruses may allow scientists to identify new targets for antiviral drugs that could be used to prevent infection in people at risk or to better treat those who become infected … [creating] an essential foundation for generating appropriate countermeasures and, ultimately, protecting public health, “wrote Dr. Fauci and two co-authors in an article dated December 30, 2011. Washington Post article defending their work.
Asked about his slowness in responding to the coronavirus problem, Trump said Sunday night at a Fox News meeting that Dr. Fauci had told him they expected the virus to be not too bad.
“Nancy Pelosi said a month later that it will pass – everyone, even Tony Fauci, said it will pass, it won’t be a big deal,” said Trump.
However, in a 2017 speech at Georgetown University, Fauci said: “There is no doubt that there will be a challenge for the administration to come in the field of infectious diseases”, adding: “The thing of which we are extremely confident is that we ‘will see that in the next few years. “
While the White House prevented Dr. Fauci from testifying before the Democrats-led Parliamentary Supply Committee as a witness during a subcommittee hearing on Covid-19 responses, he should appear before the Committee Republican Senate on health, education and pensions May 12, according to MSN.com.