NIH Director Collins to FNC's MacCallum: 'I'm a Bit Unhappy,' 'Disturbed' with Wuhan Lab Questions

National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Dr. Francis Collins said Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “The Story” that he was “disturbed” with questions about NIH funding for the Wuhan Laboratory of Virology during an interview with host Martha MacCallum.

Referencing a recently released email Collins sent to Dr. Anthony Fauci with the subject line “conspiracy gains momentum,”  MacCallum asked, “So why in April of 2020 would you say references to a lab leak where part of a conspiracy throes?”

Collins said, “I never thought, Martha, that an email only reported by the subject line would become a topic for Fox News afternoon programming, but here we are. Let me try to clarify. There were a lot of conspiracy theories and other ideas floating around at that point. One of them was that, actually, SARS-CoV-2 had been a bio-engineered bio-weapon created on purpose by human intervention by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. That doesn’t fit with what we know about this particular viral genome. Another was NIH had somehow been complicit in the generation of this dangerous virus. I can tell you categorically that did not happen. But then there was this other idea that maybe it was an accident, a lab leak, that the institute had been studying this virus, and it happened somehow in nature, and it got loose. I never rejected that one, although there was no evidence to support it. So when we talk about what happened. Let’s try to clarify the difference between those various statements or various options. Some of them are pretty outrageous. Some of them are still plausible.”

MacCallum said, “Both you and Dr. Fauci really poked a lot — any conspiracy theory that came from Senator [Tom] Cotton or President [Donald] Trump was shot down as just not being scientific and something that should be rejected. Do you disagree with that?”

Collins said, “I disagree with that. We were reacting to the more outrageous conspiracy theories that are getting blurred together here.”

MacCallum said, “There’s a couple of different programs that were funded by the NIH that raise these questions. Tell me what your reaction is to this. Back in 2015, there was a $10 million grant for work that was done… They were building synthetic strands of SARS that ‘resisted all vaccines and immunotherapy.’ Then you have a doctor from the EcoHealth Alliance. He was doing bat viruses combined with genes that have spike proteins that had ‘affinity for human cells.’ They were untreatable and resistant to vaccines. Why was that work being done, and why was it being done in conjunction with NIH-funded scientists?”

Collins said, “We’re the National Institutes of Health. We’re the largest supporter of medical health in the world. We know that bat-driven coronaviruses had caused already two major scares as far as pandemics, SARS and MRSA. It would have been irresponsible for us to not to try to understand what else might be lurking out there. The NIH and its grant funding and the subcontract to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was permitted to do anything that would have created a virus that would have been increased in its transmissibility or virulence for humans. I categorically deny that. I’m a bit unhappy people keep repeating those claims when they are untrue. I’m a little disturbed we’re spending this time on this issue. Here we are today. We should be talking about how to put COVID-19 behind us, not going back to January 2020. We’ll get the answers.”

Collins added, “I deny that you were waived off of that by me. I would say you were waived off of some more outrageous conspiracy theories that had really no categorical sense to them. But the idea of a lab leak is never anything that I thought was impossible. I just want to say that right clearly now.”

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Pam Key