Fauci calls on China to release medical records of Wuhan lab workers who fell sick in 2019

‘Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?’

Louise Hall
Friday 04 June 2021 14:51
Anthony Fauci says don't be 'accusatory' with China on coronavirus investigation
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Dr Anthony Fauci has called on China to release the medical records of three Wuhan lab researchers who fell sick with Covid-like symptoms in November 2019.

"I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019. Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?” Dr Fauci told the Financial Times on Thursday.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin, would not say whether China would release the records but firmly denied that the laboratory was linked to the outbreak of Covid-19. The country has continually denied any laboratory involvement.

The comments come amid complex and deepening tensions surrounding the origins of the disease, with the controversial theory that the pandemic originated from a lab-leak in China recently gaining more traction.

David Asher, former head of the state department’s Covid-19 origins investigation, told the FT he was “stunned” that Dr Fauci was now only just asking for the medical records.

A US Intelligence report has found that three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care, a month ahead of when the first case was reported to the World Health Organization, The Wall Street Journal reported. The lab has strongly denied the report.

The US federal government had previously largely sidelined theories that the outbreak had begun as a result of an accidental leak from a lab as hugely far-fetched and conspiracy-driven.

However, amid the Chinese government’s ongoing refusal to openly cooperate with international investigations and calls for a deeper probe from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Joe Biden has called for a more intense probe into the theory.

An initial study from the WHO concluded that the disease was likely transferred from bats into humans, although the head of the agency later said that he did not believe the evaluation was “extensive enough”.

Amid the ongoing controversy, Dr Fauci reiterated on Thursday to CNN that the most “likely origin” of the disease “is from an animal species to a human”.

He added: “But I keep an absolutely open mind that if there may be other origins of that, there may be another reason, it could have been a lab leak.”

Leaders across the globe have ramped up pressure on China to cooperate more openly with investigations searching to pinpoint the beginning of the pandemic, which has now led to more than 3.5 million deaths worldwide.

Other researchers have warned that focus on the controversial theory is exacerbating tensions and risks prolonging the pandemic. Dr Fauci himself warned the US on Thursday not to be “accusatory” towards China, saying it could get them to “pull back more”.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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