WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert until leaving the government in 2022, faces questioning Monday from lawmakers about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Republican-led House subcommittee has spent more than a year probing the nation’s response to the pandemic and whether U.S.-funded research in China played a role in how it started.

Many scientists believe the virus emerged in nature and jumped from animals to people, probably at a wildlife market in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak began. There’s no new scientific information supporting that the virus leaked from a laboratory.

Fauci has said he is open to both theories, but there’s more evidence supporting COVID-19’s natural origin, the way other deadly viruses including SARS and MERS jumped to people.

“I have repeatedly stated that I have a completely open mind to either possibility and that if definitive evidence becomes available to validate or refute either theory, I will ready accept it,” he said Monday in an opening statement.

The House panel also will question him about the science behind some controversial advice, including social-distancing.

In January, Fauci was grilled by the House panel in private for 14 hours over two days. 

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