Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser has called on China to release the medical records of nine people whose illnesses may provide vital clues as to whether Covid-19 first emerged as a result of a lab leak.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told the Financial Times that the records could help resolve the debate over the origins of a disease that has killed more than 3 , 5 million people worldwide.
The records in question concern three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who reportedly fell ill in November 2019 and six miners who fell ill after entering a bat cave in 2012. Wuhan Institute of Virology visited the cave to take samples of bats. Three of the miners died.
Shi Zhengli, the institute’s top coronavirus expert, has done just that previously denied there were infections in the laboratory; a statement that Fauci did not discuss, but said more should be investigated.
“I would like to see the medical records of the three people who were reported to have fallen ill in 2019,” Fauci dit. “Did they really get sick and, if so, what did they get sick of?
“The same with the miners who fell ill years ago. . . What do these people’s medical records say? I was [a] virus in these people? What was that? It is entirely conceivable that the origins of Sars-Cov-2 were in that cave and that they began to spread naturally or passed through the laboratory. “
The state department did not immediately respond to a question about whether the Biden administration had asked China for the medical history.
The origins of Covid-19 have become one of the most controversial issues pandemic. Donald Trump, the former president of the United States, said last year that he believed the coronavirus had leaked from the Wuhan lab, but was widely fired by the majority of the scientific community, who argued it was much more it would probably have jumped naturally from animals to humans.
However, the laboratory leak theory has gained strength in recent weeks after a group of prominent scientists signed a letter arguing that it should be taken seriously. There has also been a renewed focus on Wuhan researchers who were sent to the hospital weeks earlier the first case of Covid-19 was officially registered.
They drink last week ordered the U.S. intelligence services to reach a conclusion within 90 days about what started the pandemic. The White House said two branches of the intelligence community believe the Sars-Cov-2 virus was transmitted naturally, but a third cross came from the Wuhan Institute. None of the branches has a high level of confidence in its conclusion.
Fauci has been accused, mostly by conservatives, of minimizing the theory of laboratory leaks, in part to protect the reputation of NIAID, which helped fund controversial research on bats in Wuhan.
David Asher, former head of state department Covid-19 research, wondered why Fauci was only looking for medical records now. He noted that the Trump administration said publicly in January that U.S. intelligence believed Wuhan scientists had fallen ill with the symptoms of the virus.
“I’m amazed that Fauci is now asking this question,” said Asher, who is now at the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based conservative think tank.
Asher added that while he respected Fauci, he was frustrated by what he perceived as a lack of interest in NIAID and its parent agency, the National Institutes of Health, to pursue the possibility that the virus had leaked. of the laboratory.
Fauci told FT that he still believes the virus was first transmitted to humans through animals, and noted that even if laboratory researchers had Covid-19, they could have infected the disease with wider population. But he said he believed the issue warranted further investigation, mostly out of renewed public interest.
“I’ve always felt that the overwhelming likelihood – given the experience we’ve had with Sars, Mers, Ebola, HIV, bird flu, the 2009 swine flu pandemic – was that the virus jumped species,” he said. “But we have to keep researching until a possibility is proven.”
He rejected the idea that his organization could take any responsibility for the pandemic, though he said, “Are you really saying we’re involved because we gave a multimillion-dollar institution $ 120,000 a year for bat surveillance?”
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