“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,” he continued.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.”
“Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory…
“…The disclosure of the number of researchers, the timing of their illnesses and their hospital visits come on the eve of a meeting of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into Covid-19’s origins.”
What’s clear is that Fauci is significantly more open to the idea of the lab theory than he was a year ago. While he did leave himself some wiggle room in his statements about the origins last year (he said he was “very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,”) there was no doubt about where Fauci stood on the question.
The issue, then, is not whether Fauci has moved his position on the possible origins of the virus but rather why he is doing so. Fauci defenders will insist that he is simply evolving his view based on information that has come out over the last year. Fauci opponents will insist he knew all along that the lab theory was a possibility and downplayed it solely to make Trump look bad.
It’s also critical to remember that there would be a major distinction — even within the lab theory — between the virus accidentally getting out and it being purposely released as a sort of weapon. Trump and his allies have long flicked at the latter explanation but without any further explanation or proof.
“The current intelligence reinforces the belief that the virus most likely originated naturally, from animal-human contact, the sources said. But that does not preclude the possibility that the virus was the result of an accidental leak from the Wuhan Institute, where coronavirus research was being conducted on bats.”
Here’s the point: The origins of the virus remain not fully known. Tracing that is, at root, a medical and public health question — not a political one.