He said he believes that these hospitalizations of lab researchers could be "the first known cluster" of the COVID-19 disease.
The paper said that current and former officials familiar with the intelligence about the lab researchers expressed differing views about the strength of the supporting evidence, with one person saying it was provided by an worldwide partner and was potentially significant but still in need of further investigation and additional corroboration.
"More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic", said the 18 scientists, including Ravindra Gupta, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, and Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Citing an undisclosed USA intelligence report, the newspaper provided new details on how many researchers were taken ill, when they were ill, and their trips to the hospital. COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses share similar symptoms, though it could be concerning if several members of the same team sought hospital care before the pandemic was identified.
Last Thursday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee launched a report claiming there may be "significant circumstantial evidence" that the coronavirus originated from a leak at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that the USA authorities "may have funded or collaborated" within the analysis that led to it.
"I've read it. It's a complete lie", Yuan Zhiming, PhD, director of the biosafety lab, told Global Times, a state-run news outlet.
Metzl said the US and other countries are dragging their feet on properly investigating his claim because of China's deep "political influence".
A spokeswoman for the National Security Council did not comment on the Journal's report, but said the Biden administration "still has serious questions about the early days of the pandemic, including its origins in the People's Republic of China ". "So, the money that the NIH gave went to an American organization, which turned around and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to these Wuhan labs to investigate coronaviruses and, yes, to find ways to make them more contagious and more unsafe".
At the time of the release of the World Health Organization report, Reuters cited one member of the World Health Organization team as claiming that Chinese officials refused to hand over raw data on initial COVID-19 cases.
However, the fact that World Health Organization has said it didn't have all the necessary evidence when drawing its conclusion has caused some experts to be suspicious of the findings.
The WHO team concluded, based on sparse evidence that was clearly biased by Chinese government selection effects, that the lab-leak theory was "extremely unlikely".
In retrospect, it seems like Fauci was trying to protect himself, as it turns out that his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases may have funded "controversial "gain of function" research where coronaviruses were made 'more infectious in humans, '" at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In particular, he said, the probe into Wuhan's virology labs was not "extensive enough" and that he was prepared to launch a fresh investigation.
The new evidence also adds weight to a conclusion that WIV's leading researcher, Dr. Shi Zhengli, was lying or evading when she said that SARS-CoV-2 did not leak from her lab. They have called in particular for better access to data and samples from potential early Covid-19 cases.