President Biden's chief medical advisor, Anthony Fauci, re-emphasized the "natural" origin of COVID-19 and called to "keep politics out" of the investigation into the origins of the pandemic. According to the expert, believing the theory that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan laboratory is "an anti-China approach" rather than a scientific one.
In an interview with CBS, Fauci said, "It has been proven without a doubt that SARS-CoV-1 went from a bat to an intermediate animal host to a human. Didn't come out of any lab, nothing". According to Fauci, the pandemic "was a natural occurrence." The accusations against China are because the country's officials "were so secretive about it that you might want to suspect about what they're hiding. So right now, what we would really like to know is all of the details of what went on with the original people who were infected."
A problem of "shame"
Fauci noted that "the Chinese knew from the original SARS-CoV-1, that you don't want to bring these exotic animals into a market placed in contact with people. So they supposedly outlawed it, then you get a very competent, high integrity investigator from Australia, goes to China and gets photographs of these animals in the Wuhan market who should not have been there. So that to me is like an example, if you want to call that a cover up, or you want to call that lack of transparency, I don't know what it is. But when you say you're not going to bring animals into a market, and you do, that's bad"
From this moment on, the Chinese authorities began covering up everything and refusing to share information with the rest of the world to avoid embarrassment. "And by not wanting to be embarrassed, it's like shooting yourself in the foot that no one believes anything you say," he stressed.
"A completely open mind"
Biden's advisor stressed that "We keep a completely open mind as to what the origin is. Having said that, if you look at the examination by highly qualified international scientists with no political agendas, they've published in peer reviewed journals, the best of the peer reviewed journals, that all the accumulated evidence, particularly related to the Chinese bringing into the Wuhan market animals from the wild that should not have been there that clearly could have brought in from a bat to them to a human, that the evidence is quite strong that this is a natural occurrence. Does that mean we've ruled out that there was something funny going on at leak? Absolutely."
However, he tried to qualify his defense of China by pointing out that all possibilities must be investigated, however remote they may be. "I, and all of my colleagues, keep an absolutely open mind, we've got to investigate every possibility because this is too important not to do that. That's not incompatible with saying the scientific evidence still weighs much more strongly that this is a natural occurrence. You must keep your mind open that it's something other than that."
Nuances to the praise of the 'Zero-COVID' policy
In addition, Fauci walked back his praise of China's Zero-COVID strategy, saying that the policy of keeping populations locked up without a clear purpose, "does not make much sense". As a contrast, he praised his own policy against COVID: "If you look at the times we had to shut down, because the hospitals were being overwhelmed, and you had to stop the flow, at least temporarily, and then open up, get people vaccinated. So when you put restrictions, you do it, to give you time, to be able to do something productive so you can, you know, unloosen, or loosen up the restrictions."
Regarding lockdowns, he declined to answer clearly whether public schools should be closed again in the event of an increase in contagions. "I do not know (...), I am not sure. When there is talk of closing schools, there is always the...", which the interviewer completed with "that is also radioactive." For Fauci, the decision whether or not to shut down is up to the local authorities and should be based on local data. What he did insist on again, as he did during his farewell speech, was the need for mass testing before major celebrations, such as Christmas, and the need to avoid crowds.
Ineffectiveness of masks
During the interview, however, he was not asked about the controversy of the published emails in which Fauci stated in February 2020: "The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through material." In fact, he went as far as to tell the recipient of the message, "I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location."