China probably got rid of intermediary COVID-19 host between bats, humans, Fauci says

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  • Anthony Fauci
    Anthony Fauci
    American immunologist and head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci speculated that China likely got rid of an intermediary host that carried the COVID-19 virus between bats and humans when officials cleaned out the live animal market where the virus is theorized to have first caused an infection in humans.

"It was very likely in a host. What the Chinese did, I don't have firsthand knowledge of that, but the people who were reporting it, who investigated - what they did is they cleaned out the markets as soon as it turned out that it was clear that there were clusters coming from the market," Fauci told host Margaret Brennan on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"In typical fashion, I think, trying to make sure that things don't get pointed to them, they probably got rid of the animals that were the intermediary hosts there," said Fauci, stressing this possibility as a reason further cooperation from China on surveillance in live animal markets is needed.

Brennan noted that Beijing has said it doesn't think SARS-CoV-2 virus originated from the market. Fauci shot back, saying Beijing could not reasonably say whether it originated from the Wuhan wet market.

"I think you could say we don't know how and where it originated," he said. "There were wet markets in Wuhan that are ample opportunity for a virus to jump from an animal that gets brought in from all parts of China that are very closely related physically to bat enclaves in caves and come to the market. So I don't think anyone can say that it didn't come from here or it did come from here."

Fauci, a leading infectious diseases expert, said he wanted more regulation on wet markets internationally, acknowledging that while Chinese authorities had sought to regulate these activities, people were still breaking the laws and bringing in animals they were not supposed to.

"I think that's the reason why when this happened, I don't know, but I think why the Chinese just completely cleaned it out. We're not supposed to be doing that. I think that is one of the reasons why we're not able to find out what the original source was. I think they've destroyed some of the evidence," he said.

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