NIH Director Francis Collins says the Covid laboratory leak theory is “quite unlikely” but cannot be ruled out

The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said it was unlikely that COVID-19 originated and escaped from a laboratory, but said he could not yet deny the theory.

In an appearance on Friday’s Lex Fridman Podcast, Dr. Francis Collins, he believes the virus likely came from animals and was transmitted to humans.

However, he admitted that he still cannot rule out a scenario where scientists examined the pathogen at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China and it accidentally escaped, causing a global pandemic.

Collins urged the Chinese government to cooperate in studying the theory so that the world can finally learn the truth about the origins of Covid.

Dr. Francis Collins (pictured), director of the NIH, says the Covid lab’s leak theory is “unlikely”, although more research is needed. Pictured: The NIH Director speaks on Lex Fridman’s podcast

Laboratory leak theory claims that Covid came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured) and escaped the laboratory by infecting scientists and finding its way into the world. Many scientists believe that the virus developed naturally instead and was transmitted to humans via bats.

‘I can’t rule it out [the lab leak theory]. I think that’s pretty unlikely, “said Collins.

“I wish we had more opportunities to ask the Chinese government questions and learn more about what kind of records might have been in the lab that we could never see.”

Collins believes the virus likely originated in bats and then – through some kind of “intermediate host” – was transmitted to humans.

Who or what this intermediate host is is still unknown, and its discovery will be key to discovering how the virus came about.

“We may know when we find this intermediate host,” Collins said to Fridman.

“There hasn’t been a thorough investigation to say this won’t happen.”

The laboratory leak theory was initially dismissed by several scientists as nothing more than a conspiracy theory.

However, a May 2021 Wall Street Journal report cited an unpublished intelligence report alleging that three WIV researchers were hospitalized in November 2019 before the virus was known to exist.

Officials from around the world – including the US – called for an investigation into the origins of the virus following the report.

President Joe Biden then opened the door for intelligence officials to investigate the theory of the laboratory leak and gave them deadline in late August to report their results.

The report from the Office of the Director of the National Intelligence Service failed to draw a conclusion on whether or not the virus passed from animals to humans escaped from a laboratory.

Earlier in August, Collins had also said the virus had biomarkers that suggest its animal origin.

Still, researching the origins of the virus could take years – and possibly decades – to complete.

The NIH director noted that the search for the origins of SARS – a virus very similar to Covid – took 14 years.

The deteriorating relations between China and much of the western world are only delaying things further.

Resisting efforts by the western world to investigate the origins of the virus, China has been accused of covering up the truth in the first few weeks of the pandemic and when it first discovered it had a new virus on its hands.

It’s common for many of the viruses that cause human outbreaks to start in animals – like H1N1 (derived from pigs) and avian flu (birds).

The Wuhan lab has been studying SARS-related viruses since 2005, leading some to believe that Covid may have originated as part of this research.

Some virologists have pushed these theories back because there are virological institutes everywhere that study all types of viruses.

“Nine times out of ten if there’s a new outbreak, you’ll find a laboratory nearby that is working on these types of viruses,” Vincent Munster, a virologist at an NIH laboratory in Montana, told Nature.

Coronaviruses are also prevalent in China, Munster notes, and since Wuhan is a place prone to virus outbreaks due to its location as a transit hub, it makes sense to research these types of infections.

Leave a Comment