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Dr. Deborah Birx admits there was an effort to squash COVID lab leak theory

Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as the White House coronavirus response coordinator under President Donald Trump, told CNN on Tuesday that there has been an effort to crush scientists who claim the COVID-19 virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China.

“Initially, people took very clear positions and were divided along partisan lines, and four years later, we’re still struggling with that,” Birx told CNN’s Casey Hunt, who asked whether there was any substance to the argument that the lab leak claims were suppressed.

“I think that’s what happened. You can see it in what people were saying about Bob Redfield and how they despised him as a scientist because he brought forward a possible lab leak,” the former top medical official said.

Redfield, the former CDC director, suggested early on that the COVID-19 pandemic started in a lab, a claim that was widely denied by the media and other prominent health officials.

Fauci denies trying to suppress COVID-19 lab leak origin story

Dr. Deborah Birx, in an interview with CNN on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, suggested that the lab leak theory was suppressed early on. (Screenshot/CNN)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, denied suppressing the theory during a congressional hearing on Monday.

“And he was like, ‘I’m not a racist.'” Burks told Hunt on Tuesday. [Redfield] What was needed to push for it was to be against it and say, “This is the way it has to be,” because we didn’t know and we knew we’d never know. I mean, we knew China wasn’t transparent with SARS. We knew we’d never get answers because China wasn’t transparent with SARS the second time, but we shouldn’t have let that stop us from making sure, four and a half years later, that we prevented the lab leak and protected our people.”

She said laboratory leaks “certainly” happen, and noted that “people have been infected with HIV in labs.”

“So we have to institute different rules, regulations and guidelines to protect the public. We can do that. We have done that before,” Birx said.

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Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies on the National Institutes of Health’s budget request during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Martin, File)

Birx also discussed Monday’s House Select Subcommittee on Oversight hearing on COVID-19.

“I think the only good thing that came out of this hearing is that, as Dr. Fauci pointed out over and over again, we’re at the point where we can say categorically that we don’t know if it’s something that originated in a lab or if it’s a zoonosis that came from animals. We do a lot of research into zoonoses. This is an opportunity for us as an international community to really decide how we manage laboratory testing in a way that protects the public,” she said.

During Monday’s hearing, Fauci also defended making vaccinations mandatory for students, employees and the military.

“Vaccines save lives. It’s very clear that vaccines have saved hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of people around the world,” he said.

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“Initially the vaccines clearly prevented a certain percentage of people from getting infected, but the protection did not last long – on the scale of months,” he added.

Fox News’ Daniel Wallace contributed to this report.