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Anthony Fauci, MD, the chief White House medical adviser, has called on China to release information about nine people who got sick with a COVID-like illness before the coronavirus began spreading around the world — six miners who went into a bat cave in 2012 and three Wuhan lab workers in late 2019.
In an interview with The Financial Times, Fauci said the information could help determine the origin of the coronavirus and resolve allegations the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan before spreading around the world.
“I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019,” he said in the interview. “Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?
“The same with the miners who got ill years ago…What do the medical records of those people say?” he said. “It is entirely conceivable that the origins of SARS-CoV-2 was in that cave and either started spreading naturally or went through the lab.”
Fauci said he still thinks humans contracted the coronavirus from animals, but he’s not 100% certain.
Last week, President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus.
He said two possibilities are still on the table: the prominent theory that it was transmitted from an animal to humans outside of a lab, or that it was accidentally leaked from a lab. He said the CIA and other intelligence agencies hadn’t yet reached a consensus on how the coronavirus began in China.
A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, wouldn’t say if China would release the records but rejected the “lab leak” theory.
“We hope that people who do not hold conspiracy theories, who do respect the facts and who do respect the truth, can get factual answers from this statement,” he said, according to The Financial Times.
The Wall Street Journal reported that miners entered a copper mine in southwest China in April 2012 to clear bat guano. Six of them got sick with a coronavirus-like illness, and three of them died.
Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology went to the cave to collect guano samples, the Journal said. In November 2019, three researchers from that lab became sick with a flu-like illness and sought hospital care, according to a U.S. intelligence report obtained by the newspaper.
The first known coronavirus cases were reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan province, and the first death was reported there in January 2020. Since then, 172 million cases have been reported around the world, with 3.7 million COVID-related deaths.
The Financial Times: “Anthony Fauci urges China to release medical records of Wuhan lab workers.”
The Wall Street Journal: “The Wuhan Lab Leak Question: A Disused Chinese Mine Takes Center Stage.”