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Doctor Anthony Fauci has called for China to release the medical records of three Wuhan lab researchers who fell sick with Covid-like symptoms in November 2019.
"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?”, Dr Fauci told the Financial Times on Thursday.
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin, would not say whether China would release the records but firmly denied that the laboratory was linked to the outbreak of Covid-19. The country has continually denied any laboratory involvement.
The comments come amid complex and deepening tensions surrounding the origins of the disease, with the controversial theory that the pandemic originated from a lab-leak in China recently gaining more traction.
A US Intelligence report has found that three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care, a month ahead of when the first case was reported to the World Health Organization,The Wall Street Journal reported.
The US federal government had previously largely sidelined theories that the outbreak had begun as a result of an accidental leak from a lab as hugely far-fetched and conspiracy-driven.
However, amid the Chinese government’s ongoing refusal to openly cooperate with international investigations and calls for a deeper probe from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Joe Biden has called for a more intense probe into the theory.
Amid the ongoing controversy, Dr Fauci reiterated on Thursday to CNN that the most “likely origin” of the disease “is from an animal species to a human”.
He added: “But I keep an absolutely open mind that if there may be other origins of that, there may be another reason, it could have been a lab leak.”
Additional reporting by Reuters