Dr. Anthony Fauci on Capitol Hill on March 11, 2020.

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that there was no evidence to suggest that the novel coronavirus was manufactured in a laboratory. 

Conspiracy theorists have, without evidence, linked the outbreak to a research institute in Wuhan and have suggested that the virus was developed there and accidentally released onto the public. 

On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed there was “enormous evidence” that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab.

But in an interview published in National Geographic on Monday, Fauci said that scientific evidence is “very, very strongly leaning toward” the conclusion that the virus originated in nature and jumped from animals to humans. 

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Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and a front-facing member of the White House coronavirus task force, said that there was no evidence that the new coronavirus was made in a Wuhan lab. 

In an interview published in National Geographic on Monday, Fauci said that scientific evidence is “very, very strongly leaning toward” the conclusion that the virus originated in nature and jumped from animals to humans. 

“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” he told National Geographic. 

Conspiracy theorists have, without evidence, linked the outbreak to the Wuhan Virology Institute, which conducts high-level research on dangerous pathogens and is located about eight miles from the Wuhan wet market found to be the most likely starting point for the coronavirus outbreak. 

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Unfounded conspiracy theories claim the institute accidentally leaked the virus out into the public. The lab has denied any role in spreading the new coronavirus. 

Still, the Trump administration has continued to tout the conspiracy theory in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, a set of State Department cables leaked to The Washington Post warned of safety issues at the Wuhan lab, thrusting rumors of a potential lab accident into the spotlight.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed there was “enormous evidence” that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab.

“China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running sub-standard laboratories,” he told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz during his appearance on “This Week.” “These aren’t the first times that we have had the world exposed to viruses as a result of failures from a Chinese lab.”

Grey-headed flying foxes reside in animal trainer Santisak Dulapitak’s house in the outskirts of Bangkok September 10, 2009. Santisak, 53, has been training his animals to appear in advertisements and movies for more than two decades. The grey-headed flying fox, a type of fruit bat, is one of many animals Santisak trains. Picture taken September 10, 2009.

REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Researchers have repeatedly debunked the theory

But virus researchers have said that the idea the virus was somehow released from the Wuhan lab is incredibly unlikely, and have repeatedly stressed that the virus most likely jumped from bats to humans. 

The coronavirus is a zoonotic disease, meaning it jumps from animals to humans. It also shares similarities with other coronavirus outbreaks, like SARS, which was determined to have likely jumped from bats to civets to people.

In the past 45 years, at least three other pandemics have been traced back to bats, including Ebola, Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS), and the Nipah virus.

The World Health Organization and Fauci both recently said that all available evidence points to the virus being of animal origin, most likely bats.

Speaking to National Geographic, Fauci stressed the importance of keeping social distancing measures and adequate testing procedures in place and said we may see a resurgence of the virus in the future as lockdown measures are lifted. 

“I don’t think there’s a chance that this virus is just going to disappear,” he said. 

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