Dr Anthony Fauci says there is ‘no evidence’ that coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab – contradicting repeated claims by the Trump administration.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, panned the conspiracy theory that China’s outbreak began at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in an interview with National Geographic published Monday.
‘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,’ Fauci said.
‘Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.’
He also shut down an alternate theory that someone found the virus in the wild and brought it to a lab before it accidentally leaked.
Dr Anthony Fauci says there is ‘no evidence’ that coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab – contradicting repeated claims by President Donald Trump and his administration
Fauci’s comments came as Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have continued to suggest there is evidence supporting the lab leak theory.
During a town hall meeting on Sunday night, Trump described the pandemic as a ‘horrible mistake’ by China as he accused President Xi Jinping’s of intentionally misleading the global community.
Hours earlier, Pompeo told ABC News: ‘I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.’
China has fiercely condemned the suggestions while charging that the Trump administration is rushing to shift blame amid criticism over how it handled the US outbreak, which has sickened more than 1.2million Americans and killed at least 69,788 to date.
The Trump administration has been fueling conspiracy theories that China’s COVID-19 outbreak began at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC News on Sunday: ‘I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan’
Fauci deviated from his boss at another point in the National Geographic interview when he rejected Trump’s hope that the virus would ‘miraculously’ go away.
‘I don’t think there’s a chance that this virus is just going to disappear. It’s going to be around, and if given the opportunity, it will resurge,’ Fauci said.
He went on to warn that there would be a second wave of infections later this year.
‘We’re going to be put to the test as we move toward the fall and winter of this year,’ he said.
‘If we do it correctly, then we could be able to blunt and diminish the daily rate of infections in this country as we get into the summer. I can’t guarantee it, but if we do things right, that likely will happen.’
In a warning to public officials, he added: ‘Shame on us if we don’t have enough tests by the time this so-called return might occur in the fall and winter.’
But Fauci did express optimism about current US efforts to combat future outbreaks, saying that he believes a vaccine could be available as early as January thanks to ‘impressive’ results from an ongoing trial by Moderna Therapeutics in Massachusetts.
‘We have a better chance of quickly getting, relatively speaking, a vaccine for the novel coronavirus than we did for HIV, because for some reason that’s still unknown the body does not make an adequate immune response to HIV,’ he said.
Fauci’s interview was published hours after a leaked White House report revealed that the number of daily COVID-19 deaths is expected to double in the next month.
Two staggering coronavirus projections were released on Monday – including a private model by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention that said the daily death toll will reach 3,000 cases daily on June 1.
Trump dismissed the leaked projection during an interview in the Oval Office, saying: ‘I know nothing about it. I don’t know anything about it. Nobody told me that.’
‘I think it’s – I think it’s false, I think it’s fake news.’
The White House has said that leaked projection had not been ‘presented to the coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting.’
According to the leaked FEMA chart, daily US deaths will reach 3,000 cases by June 1. That number is nearly double the current level of 1,750 deaths a day from the disease