The director of the National Institutes of Health on Wednesday took umbrage with Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum’s repeated grilling about the origins of COVID-19, eventually snapping at her while expressing how “unhappy” he was over accusations the NIH funded the creation of the virus.
With circumstantial evidence mounting in support of the possibility that the virus could have accidentally escaped from a Wuhan lab, Fox News and Republicans who initially supported the lab leak theory have taken something of a victory lap.
At the same time, NIH chief Dr. Francis Collins, along with the Biden administration, has called for a “thorough” investigation into the origins.
Noting that recent emails show he dismissed the lab theory as a conspiracy in April 2020, MacCallum pressed Collins on Wednesday afternoon over whether the NIH funded gain-of-function research of coronaviruses, a claim he felt was misrepresented.
“I categorically deny that the NIH and its grant funding in a subcontract with the Wuhan Institute of Virology was permitted to do anything that would have created a virus that would have increased its transmissibility or virulence for humans,” the NIH boss declared. “I categorically deny that and I’m a bit unhappy when people keep repeating those claims when they’re simply not true!”
He added: “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.”
Collins went on to insist that the “outrageous conspiracy” he decried last year was the claim that the virus was a bioengineered weapon and that the “idea of a lab leak is never anything that I thought was impossible.”