05:03 GMT22 June 2021
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    Two leading Republican members of Congress have said it is "imperative" for President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser to testify about allegations of COVID-19's man-made origins.

    Anthony Fauci, the US president's chief medical adviser, has urged China to release the medical records of nine people, which may shed light on whether the coronavirus first emerged as the result of a lab leak. Fauci also serves as head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

    The records in question pertain to three researchers from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology who reportedly fell ill in November 2019, and six miners who became sick after entering a bat cave in 2012. Wuhan researchers subsequently visited the cave to take samples from the bats, while three of the miners passed away.

    The Wuhan Institute of Virology is seen near the Chinese character for Dream during a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021
    © AP Photo / Ng Han Guan
    The Wuhan Institute of Virology is seen near the Chinese character for "Dream" during a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021

    In an interview with the newspaper the Financial Times (FT), Fauci said that he continues to believe the coronavirus was first transmitted to humans via animals, arguing that even if the Wuhan scientists did have COVID-19, they could have contracted the disease from the wider population.

    "I have always felt that the overwhelming likelihood — given the experience we have had with SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome], MERS [Middle East respiratory syndrome], Ebola, HIV, bird flu, the swine flu pandemic of 2009 — was that the virus jumped species. But we need to keep on investigating until a possibility is proven", Biden’s chief medical adviser stressed.

    He rejected the idea of NIAID possibly being responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, stating, "Are you really saying that we are implicated because we gave a multibillion-dollar institution $120,000 a year for bat surveillance?"

    Fauci Says Emails About COVID-19's Origins 'Taken Out of Context'

    The interview comes after Fauci asserted that recent revelations suggesting he was warned at the very outset of the pandemic that COVID-19 may have been "engineered" had been "taken out of context".

    The remarks followed the emergence of more than 3,200 pages of what BuzzFeed described as the chief medical adviser's emails dating back to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The alleged emails reportedly covered the period between January 2020 and June 2020, showing how Fauci dealt with the massive flow of information as the COVID pandemic began to ravage the US.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci arrives to testify before the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on the Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 15, 2021.
    © REUTERS / POOL
    Dr. Anthony Fauci arrives to testify before the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on the Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 15, 2021.

    In one of the alleged emails, Peter Daszak, the head of a nonprofit with ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reportedly thanked Fauci for downplaying the possibility of COVID-19 having escaped from a lab.

    Late last month, President Joe Biden gave his country's intelligence agencies 90 days to obtain and analyse more information on the origins of COVID-19, also vowing to prod China to "participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence".

    Biden's push for a probe followed developments in late March, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) released the full version of its report on the origins of the coronavirus, in which the WHO called a leak of COVID-19 from a laboratory very unlikely. The report also suggested that the virus was most likely transmitted to humans from bats via another animal.

    The former Trump administration had repeatedly claimed the disease may have originated in a Wuhan lab, with the 45th US president referring to COVID-19 as the "China virus" and Beijing rejecting the allegations.

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    probe, Wuhan, COVID-19, coronavirus, Anthony Fauci, US, China
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