Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease researcher in the United States, has urged China to provide the medical records of nine patients whose illnesses might give crucial clues regarding whether COVID-19 originally surfaced as a result of a lab breach, according to the Financial Times on Thursday.
“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?” the report quoted Fauci as saying.
The origin of the virus is hotly contested, with U.S. intelligence agencies still examining reports that researchers at a Chinese virology laboratory in Wuhan were seriously ill in 2019 a month before the first COVID-19 cases were reported.
However, Chinese scientists and officials have persistently dismissed the lab leak scenario, claiming that the virus might have been spreading in other areas before it reached Wuhan and may have even entered China via imported frozen food shipments or animal trade.
According to the Financial Times, Fauci believes the virus was initially spread to people through animals, and that even if the lab researchers did carry COVID-19, they may have caught the sickness from the general population.