A top Wuhan Institute of Virology scientist and Dr. Anthony Fauci cited the same scientific paper when arguing in favor of a natural origin for COVID-19 and against the lab leak hypothesis.
Last weekend, Fauci said he continues to believe the “most likely” origin for COVID-19 is nature and hasn’t seen any recent “concrete evidence” to make him think the Wuhan lab leak hypothesis is more likely. In an interview on Saturday with CNN, Fauci repeatedly cited a scientific paper from July that argued in favor of zoonosis and largely dismissed the lab leak hypothesis.
“I keep an open mind and say that we should consider all possibilities until we definitively prove one. But I, together with many highly qualified vaccinologists — and virologists, I mean — including a recent paper by 21 internationally renowned virologists and evolutionary biologists from all over the world, indicate that, although we keep an open mind that it’s possible that it could be, as they say, a lab leak, that the most likely explanation is a natural evolution from an animal reservoir to a human. Once you say that, which I believe is the more likely, you’ve gotta make sure you emphasize that you still keep an open mind for all possibilities, including the lab leak.”
Fauci cited the paper again, adding: “A recent paper was put out by 21 very well internationally respected virologists and evolutionary biologists who said the same thing I’m saying. I rely on people like that who have great experience in this — that’s what they do every single day — who again, are open-minded in saying it’s conceivable that you may have had a lab leak. … But they feel that the more likely explanation is a natural evolution from an animal host to a human.”
The paper that Fauci cited was titled The Origins of SARS-CoV-2: A Critical Review and argued in favor of the natural hypothesis and against a lab leak.
“We contend that there is a substantial body of scientific evidence supporting a zoonotic origin for SARS-COV-2,” the 21 scientists wrote. “While the possibility of a laboratory accident cannot be entirely dismissed, and may be near impossible to falsify, this conduit for emergence is highly unlikely. … There is currently no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 has a laboratory origin. … The suspicion that SARS-CoV-2 might have a laboratory origin stems from the coincidence that it was first detected in a city that houses a major virological laboratory that studies coronaviruses.”
Yuan Zhiming, director of the biosafety lab at the Wuhan lab, also cited the paper on Thursday during a Beijing press conference in which China rejected a planned WHO follow-up investigation into COVID-19’s origins, which would have scrutinized the lab leak hypothesis.
“There has been a general consensus by the academic community that the coronavirus was naturally generated, and the experts issued another statement saying that no evidence can support the theory of laboratory leak from China,” Yuan claimed. “On the 7th of July, 21 scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries published an article stating that there is no evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 originated in the laboratory.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said last week there was a “premature push” to dismiss the lab leak theory during the first WHO-China investigation earlier this year, which has been widely seen as flawed.
Richard Ebright, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, told the Washington Examiner the July paper “contains no new information and no new analysis.”
“The authors assert that ‘there is a substantial body of scientific evidence supporting a zoonotic origin for SARS-CoV-2,’ but they provide no such evidence,” Ebright said. “The authors set up a straw man as the alternative hypothesis, asserting that the alternative hypothesis is escape of a known virus from a laboratory, and neglecting the fact that the alternative hypothesis, as stated repeatedly over the last 16 months, also encompasses possible contact with an unknown virus during field collection in bat colonies, during field survey of villagers near bat colonies, during transportation of samples from bat colonies, or during laboratory processing of samples from bat colonies.”
Ebright added: “Using the authors’ inappropriate straw-man definitions, an infection of laboratory staffers with an unknown virus during field collection in bat colonies, field survey of villagers near bat colonies, transportation of samples from bat colonies, or laboratory processing of samples from bat colonies would count as ‘zoonotic origin.’ This is the same verbal legerdemain as in the WHO report, and bespeaks the same intent to mislead as in the WHO report.”
A State Department fact sheet released in January contended Wuhan lab researchers “conducted experiments involving RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar)” and the lab “has a published record of conducting ‘gain-of-function’ research to engineer chimeric viruses.” The fact sheet asserted the lab “engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military” and that lab workers became sick with coronavirus-like symptoms in autumn 2019.
Yuan claimed the level-four biosafety lab “has not had any pathogen leakage” since it began operations in 2018 and “the staff and students at the Wuhan institute have maintained a record of zero infection of COVID-19.”
The July paper’s authors included four scientists who also co-authored a March 2020 paper in Nature that cast doubt on the lab leak possibility — and which Fauci shared with reporters to cast doubt on the lab leak hypothesis in the early months of the pandemic. Fauci also appeared to have given some sort of input on the article before it was published.
The U.S. intelligence community said in May at least one of its 18 agencies is leaning toward the lab leak hypothesis, and President Joe Biden ordered all of the spy agencies to “redouble” investigative efforts.
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Author: ThinkCivics Newswire
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