Dr. Anthony Fauci said Saturday that a coronavirus lab leak could still be considered a “natural occurrence” if the definition of lab leak meant that someone was infected in the wild and went “into a lab,” was studied in a lab, and then “came out of the lab.”
Fauci joined CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday and speculated how a coronavirus lab leak could have occurred.
“A lab leak could be that someone was out in the wild, maybe looking for different types of viruses in bats, got infected, went into a lab, and was being studied in a lab, and then came out of the lab. But if that’s the definition of lab leak, then that’s still a natural occurrence,” Fauci said.
He said the other possibility was that a virus “accidentally” escaped a lab after being taken from an environment.
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“The other possibility is someone takes a virus from the environment that doesn’t actually spread very well in humans, and manipulates it a bit, and accidentally it escapes or accidentally infects someone and then you get an outbreak,” he said.
Fauci also said that there have been no lab leaks that have led to a pandemic.
“There are no lab leaks that have led to pandemics, so there have been accidents in the lab. That happens intermittently. We’ve had experiences with that in modern times, recently, but there has never been a situation where a virus escaped from a lab that’s a brand-new virus that no one has ever seen before that led to a pandemic. That has not happened,” he said.
Acosta also asked Fauci if his thinking on a possible coronavirus lab leak has evolved at all.
“You know, Jim, I’ve kept an open mind throughout the entire process. What has changed over months to a year or more is what I mentioned a bit ago, namely that as evolutionary virologists went into this deeper and deeper and analyzed it from a number of standpoints, epidemiologically, virologically, geospatially; they wrote two very important, well written, peer-reviewed papers in Science Magazine strongly suggesting that, in fact, it was a natural occurrence from an animal to a human. But strongly suggesting, Jim, doesn’t nail it down definitively. And that’s the reason why I say to this day I will keep a completely open mind as to what the origin is,” he responded.
Fauci has said for months now that, while he was keeping a “completely open mind,” he believed evidence pointed away from a lab leak.
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Some conservatives and others reacted to Fauci’s comments on Sunday.
“The absolute knots you must tie yourself into to maintain the formerly approved opinions on Covid origins and mask mandate efficacy and school closures,” Mary Katharine Ham tweeted.
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House Democrats and Republicans voted unanimously on a bill that would require the director of national intelligence to declassify all intelligence related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and possible links to the origins of the COVID-19 virus.
The bill comes after the Department of Energy and the FBI have concluded that the coronavirus likely originated in a lab.