Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the US President, lashed out in his latest interview against recent allegations that his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases could have any responsibility for starting the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Are you really saying that we are implicated because we gave a multi-billion dollar institution $120,000 a year for bat surveillance?" he said, according to the Financial Times.
Earlier, more than 3,200 pages of what BuzzFeed claims are the chief medical adviser's emails dating back to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic emerged.
In one of those alleged emails, Peter Daszak, the head of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organisation with ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reportedly thanked Fauci for downplaying the possibility that COVID-19 had escaped from a lab in Wuhan.
Fauci, however, recently said that the revelations in those papers, suggesting he was warned at the very outset of the pandemic, that COVID-19 might have been “engineered” had been “taken out of context”.
The US COVID-19 tzar also told the FT that the medical records of three workers who were said to have become sick at the Wuhan lab in late 2019 would be helpful to the probe into the virus' origin.
"Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?" he asked.
According to reports, six Chinese miners fell sick after visiting a cave containing bats in 2012 and three of them died. Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology visited this cave to take samples from the bats and three researchers at the institute reportedly fell sick in November 2019.
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said that the employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology are not related to the initial phases of COVID-19's spread.
In March, the World Health Organization released the full version of its report on the origins of 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.
Recently, Biden ordered members of the US intelligence community to produce a report in 90 days to put an end to the debate over whether coronavirus spread to humans from animals naturally or if it leaked from a laboratory in China, and promised to release the report in full. The same day, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that the agency did not know the exact origins of the coronavirus at the time.
Former US president, Donald Trump, has been accusing Beijing of "concealing" data about the pandemic and even claimed that China owes the US and the rest of the world "reparations" for allegedly unleashing the disease. Beijing has continuously denied the charge.