Fauci Speaks Out About COVID Lab Leak Theory After Report

Dr. Anthony Fauci urged people to keep an open mind when it comes to COVID-19 origins after a new report suggested that the virus was leaked from a Chinese lab.

COVID-19 emerged in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and its origin has sparked worldwide debate, with opposing sides disagreeing on whether the virus was leaked from a lab or whether it was naturally occurring. The virus has infected more than 674 million people worldwide, killing more than 6 million, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

Fauci's comments came after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a report claiming that COVID-19 stemmed from a lab leak in China. The report places the DOE in line with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on COVID-19 origin beliefs, but not all U.S. government agencies agree.

The other theory is that the virus jumped species after a human came into contact with an infected animal.

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National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci in the James S Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, 2022 JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

In a video interview with The Boston Globe, Fauci—who retired as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the end of last year—urged people not to jump to conclusions. He said the DOE report was made with "low confidence" and he hasn't seen the data used to compile the report.

Instead, Fauci shared data submitted by evolutionary virologists in peer-reviewed journals. He said the information "strongly suggests" the virus was a natural occurrence.

"You have to look at the data. I don't see any data for a lab leak," he said. "That doesn't mean it could not have happened, and that's the reason I keep an open mind always about that."

Theories about the virus' origin have centered around Fauci and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), when in 2021, the NIH was accused of funding studies that would make a coronavirus more dangerous to humans. Fauci denied the allegations, but later that year, the NIH admitted that it funded gain-of-research studies about coronaviruses impacting bats in Wuhan.

In his recent interview, Faucisaid a "lot more investigation" is needed to identify the virus' origin. He said that to complete the investigation, there must be access to the location in which the virus originated. Fauci said Americans might never know where the virus originated, but if they hope to find the answer, they must be willing to work with Chinese scientists.

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Laboratory technicians wear personal protective equipment (PPE) working on samples to be tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus at the Fire Eye laboratory, a Covid-19 testing facility, in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. Dr. Anthony Fauci, inset, recently urged Americans to keep an open mind about COVID-19 origins. Getty/Getty

"I think that would go a long way to getting more info to essentially resolve this issue," he said.

However, the extent of future collaboration between China and the U.S. is uncertain. China has grown increasingly agitated with the U.S. since a suspected spy balloon originating in China was shot down by the U.S. military this month.

After the DOE report published, Chinese authorities rejected the findings, accusing the U.S. of politicizing the virus.

Newsweek reached out to the DOE for comment.