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Lab Leak Theory ‘a Fringe Idea’ until March 2021, Was ‘Hawked by Conspiracy Theorists’

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On Tuesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “New Day,” co-host Brianna Keilar stated that the lab leak theory on the origin of COVID-19 “was previously hawked by conspiracy theorists,” but might be a legitimate theory, and “The lab leak theory remained a fringe idea until as recently as March” of 2021.

After playing a clip of Fauci conceding that it’s possible the virus originated in a lab, Keilar said, “To be clear, Dr. Fauci never said that COVID-19 did not come from a lab. What he said was there was no scientific evidence supporting that it did. And later in that very same interview, Fauci said investigators still say the spread was likely natural, meaning zoonotic, starting from an animal that transmitted it to humans, which has long been the explanation that was more broadly considered as likely, that it began in Wuhan’s seafood market, where there were also a number of animals. So, how did we get here, with America’s most prominent public health expert saying that the lab leak theory, which was previously hawked by conspiracy theorists, might actually be credible?”

She continued that the lab leak theory has been proposed for a long time, including by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and others on the right, and that there was reporting that gave credence to the lab theory, a theory that Fauci dismissed.

She further stated that in April of 2020, “many Republicans were trying to turn blame for the worsening situation from Trump’s policies to China.” And that former President Donald Trump and officials in his administration refused to share evidence to back up their claims that the virus emerged from a lab.

She added, “At the time, Dr. Fauci insisted the evidence showed the virus almost certainly evolved naturally and it was a circular argument to suggest otherwise. The lab leak theory remained a fringe idea until as recently as March of this year” when former CDC Director Robert Redfield said he thinks the lab theory is the most likely one.

Keilar concluded that the story is complicated by China’s lack of transparency, “And for Trump, the question of the lab theory was less about finding the truth and more about finding a scapegoat as he made racist comments deflecting from his own poor political performance and coincided with higher rates of hate crimes against Asian Americans.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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