Fauci acknowledges he privately entertained lab leak theories early in the pandemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that he and a few scientists had discussed the theory that the SARS-COV-2 virus leaked from a laboratory, and the possibility that it could have been genetically engineered, during a teleconference in February 2020.

“I remember it well,” Fauci told USA Today. Kristian Andersen, a participant of the group and specialist in communicative diseases genomics at the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told Fauci in an email that some of the features of the SARS-COV-2 virus seem to be genetically engineered. “We decided on the call the situation needed to be looked into carefully,” Fauci said. Andersen wrote that he and other scientists found the genome to be different than the expected outcomes from the revolutionary theory.

“The teleconference was a very productive back-and-forth conversation where some on the call felt it could be an engineered virus,” Fauci said. “I always had an open mind towards the lab-leak theory, even though I felt then and still do the most likely origin was in an animal host.” Three days after the conference, Andersen said in a separate email that data conclusively show that coronavirus wasn’t engineered.

That email was intended for scientists who were drafting a letter on the pathogen to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “The main crackpot theories going around at the moment relate to this virus being somehow engineered with the intent and that is demonstrably not the case,” Andersen said in that email. “Engineering can mean many things and could be done for either basic research reasons, but the data conclusively show that neither was done…”


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