“It is essential as a scientist that you evolve your opinion and your recommendations based on the data as it evolves,” the White House infectious disease expert told the podcast “Sway” that aired Monday.
“And that’s the reason why I say people who then criticize me about that are actually criticizing science,” he told interviewer Kara Swisher of attacks when he changed his mind on mask-wearing.
“[T]he people who are giving the ad hominems are saying, ‘Ah, Fauci misled us. First he said no masks, then he said masks.’
“Well, let me give you a flash. That’s the way science works. You work with the data you have at the time.
“That is the nature of science. It is a self-correcting process.”
He said his change in advice was “not a change because I felt like flip-flopping. It was a change because the evidence changed, the data changed.”
He insisted that most of the attacks are “anti-science” and political, with people misinterpreting his decision to keep an open mind about things that he still does not believe are true — like the Wuhan lab-leak theory.
“I feel, as do the overwhelming majority of scientists who have knowledge of virology and knowledge of evolutionary biology, that the most likely explanation for this is a natural leap from an animal to a human,” he said of the coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic.
But “I do keep an open mind that [a lab-leak] is a possibility,” the 80-year-old scientist told the New York Times podcast.
“It’s a possibility. I think it’s a very, very, very, very remote possibility — but it’s a possibility,” he said.
Asked about former President Donald Trump’s administration’s claims that it had seen evidence supporting the theory, Fauci scoffed, “I haven’t seen it because I’m not sure it exists.”
He then suggested that the escalation in those blaming the Wuhan Institute of Virology was due to an increase in “tweeting, of speculation” — but “no real increase in definitive data or evidence whatsoever.”
“We hear a lot of people making statements that are really completely debunked,” he said.
The science, he insisted, appeared that it “evolved from bat viruses.”
“There’s nothing you see in there that makes you think it came from a lab,” he said — repeating again that “I do keep an open mind” until it is proven “definitively.”