The Plague, the Hero and the Villain

In an attempt to divert public opinion from his disastrous management of the COVID-19 pandemic, former President Donald Trump is now going after Anthony Fauci. According to Trump, Fauci did not consider the idea of whether the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan, China instead of being transmitted from animals to humans.

However, Fauci, the No. 1 infectious diseases expert in the United States, told me in an interview that there was still no convincing evidence that the virus escaped from a Chinese laboratory. The director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told me that it was quite probable that, just like SARS, Ebola, Influenza and HIV, COVID-19 originated in an animal and was then transmitted to humans. Moreover, Fauci thinks that, although the possibility of the virus coming from a laboratory exists, it is highly unlikely.

In my interview with Fauci (which will be broadcast next Sunday), we also discussed the pandemic in Latin America. He highlighted the importance of finding the exact origin of the pandemic in order to prevent it from happening again. President Joe Biden has asked U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the origin of the virus and to draft a report before the end of August.

When I asked him about this investigation, Fauci said that cooperation with Chinese scientists was necessary. About the emails leaked by BuzzFeed and The Washington Post, Fauci said that his critics were taking his statements out of context when they asserted he knew more than what he said publicly said regarding the possibility that the virus originated in a Chinese laboratory.

Noting that he never fully discarded the laboratory theory, Fauci added that he believed that interest in that theory increased, but not necessarily the amount of evidence supporting it. Right-wing media are making a fuss about Fauci’s emails, claiming that Fauci knew about the laboratory theory from the beginning, but supposedly never took it seriously. A huge number of critics are basing their conclusions on an email from January 2020, in which infectious diseases expert Kristian Andersen seemed to suggest that the virus came from a laboratory.

However, what most right-wing media fail to mention is that, some weeks after that, Andersen concluded that the laboratory theory was implausible. Therefore, the idea that Fauci was somehow hiding the theory becomes untenable. Of course, Trump is now trying to depict Fauci as the main culprit of the United States’ position as the holder of the COVID-19 death count world record.

Until there is conclusive evidence that the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan, Trump’s accusations should only be regarded as another attempt to mock science and divert public attention from his own mistakes (for instance, downplaying the pandemic from the beginning). Let us remember that Trump always knew the pandemic would be devastating, as he said in a taped interview with Bob Woodward in February 2020. But, in fear of losing the November election, Trump decided to lie.

Furthermore, Trump always refused to wear a face mask and to keep socially distanced, and he mocked the virus for months. As I wrote at the time, Trump failed to do what a president is supposed to do: take care of the people of the United States. Obviously, the investigation of the laboratory theory should continue. Moreover, there is no doubt that the Chinese dictatorship is responsible for not letting the world know about the virus in time. Until there is enough evidence to prove that virus originated in a laboratory, Fauci continues to be the hero, while Trump remains the villain who tries to place the blame on someone else.

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