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Fauci says it's 'almost certain' federal government didn't fund experiments that created COVID-19

Says it would be "essentially molecularly impossible" for funded viral experiments to mutate into COVID.

Published: November 29, 2022 10:23am

Updated: November 29, 2022 10:37am

Longtime federal infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci this week said it was an "almost certain" assurance that the federal government did not fund experiments that generated the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Speculation has swirled for nearly three years that experiments in China bankrolled by the National Institutes of Health may have led to the inadvertent creation—and release from a lab—of SARS-CoV-2. The NIH, particularly through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases headed by Fauci himself, for years awarded several grants to organizations performing pathogenic enhancement experiments on coronaviruses in China. 

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper this week, Fauci—who is this year leaving his post as the head of the NIAID—suggested there was a slight but remote possibility that those experiments may have beget the virus. 

"It's possible that there's a lab leak, but if you look at the viruses that the NIH funded ... and what was done with the viruses, it would be essentially molecularly impossible for those viruses to turn into SARS-CoV-2," Fauci told Tapper. 

"I can’t tell you what’s going on in all of China or in other things," he added. "But I can tell you for sure that if you look at the viruses that the NIH grant funded to study in a surveillance way, anybody who even has a peripheral understanding of evolutionary virology could tell you these viruses could not possibly turn into SARS-CoV-2." 

"So when you talk about a leak, maybe there’s a lab leak," he added. "But it’s not with the viruses that the NIH was funding. That’s almost certain that that’s the case."

Fauci will be leaving the NIAID next month after just under 40 years leading it. 

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