Investigating Whether COVID-19 Originated from a Lab

By Milo Mandelli-Valla

New York City, New York

A staff member at a coronavirus detection lab in Wuhan, China (Photo Credit: CGTN)

Just a short time ago, the idea of the COVID-19 virus originating from a lab was seen as far-fetched. As recently as May 5, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), denied the lab leak theory, telling Politico, "The overwhelming likelihood is that the virus passed from bat to human, via another species, as SARS and MERS did, rather than leaking from a lab." Yet, six days later, Fauci said he was “not convinced” COVID-19 developed naturally and called for further investigation. This statement came right before the release of Fauci’s emails relating to the pandemic, which have raised red flags on the origins of COVID-19, as some emails discuss the matter. The Biden Administration, meanwhile, declared on May 26 that they would begin an investigation into the origins of the virus, similar to an investigation started by former President Trump, which Biden ended.

On May 23, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled, “Intelligence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate on Covid-19 Origin,” which noted that people who worked at the virology lab contracted the virus and then went to a hospital in Wuhan around the time of patient zero. The Guardian furthers this, “There is evidence that the lab in question, which studies bat coronaviruses, may have been conducting what is called ‘gain of function’ research, a dangerous innovation in which diseases are deliberately made more virulent.” This is not unique to China, as the US has 13 publicly acknowledged bioweapon labs.

Dr. Fauci previously wrote he supported gain-of-function research and argued its benefits outweighed the possibility of a pandemic. In a 2012 paper published on PubMed, Fauci wrote:

"In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic? [...] Scientists working in this field might say—as indeed I have said—that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks."

Furthering the lab leak theory, in emails revealed recently involving Fauci, on February 22, 2020, Dr. Michael Jacobs emailed Fauci expressing his concern that the virus came from a lab. The email read, “We think that there is a possibility that the virus was released from a lab in Wuhan, the biotech area of China. We also think that the virus might be complexed with another organism, such as a yeast or fungus, to make it more sticky. We would like to discuss this with you further. We feel that immediate action must be taken by United States scientists to try to neutralize this threat.”