The former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under President Donald Trump said in an interview he believes that the COVID-19 virus escaped from China’s only top-level research laboratory in Wuhan city.
“That’s my own view. It’s only an opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now,” Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, noting that he believes the virus initially started to circulate in Wuhan in September or October 2019.
“You know, I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely ideology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped. Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out,” he continued.
“It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker,” he added.
“That’s not implying any intentionality. It’s my opinion, right? But I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology,” Redfield noted further. “I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human and at that moment in time that the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission.”
In response, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top immunologist and the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, entertained Redfield’s opinion but said it isn’t the most widely held view.
“Okay, so when you think about the possibilities of how this virus appeared in the human population, obviously there are a number of theories. The issue that would have someone think it’s possible to have escaped from a lab would mean that it essentially entered the outside human population already well adapted to humans, suggesting that it was adapted in the lab,” Fauci said during a discussion about the virus on Friday, which was broadcast on C-SPAN.
“However, the alternative explanation, which most public health individuals go by, is that this virus was actually circulating in China, likely in Wuhan, for a month or more before they were clinically recognized at the end of December of 2019,” Fauci added.
“If that were the case, the virus clearly could have adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time, up to and at the time it was recognized. So Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion as to a possibility. But again, there are other alternatives, others that most people hold by,” he said.
Redfield is the latest former Trump administration official to express the view that the virus originated in a laboratory.
Last month, Matt Pottinger, who served as deputy national security adviser under, said the evidence favors the lab theory.
“If you weigh the circumstantial evidence, the ledger on the side of an explanation that says that this resulted from some kind of human error, it far outweighs the side of the scale that says this was some natural outbreak,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“We have very strong reason to believe that the Chinese military was doing secret classified animal experiments in that same laboratory, going all the way back to at least 2017,” he said.
“We have good reason to believe that there was an outbreak of flu-like illness among researchers working in the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the fall of 2019, but immediately before the first documented cases came to light.”
In May 2020, as the virus swept across the U.S. and states locked down their economies, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “there is a significant amount of evidence” to believe that COVID-19 came from the lab.
And earlier last month, Fox News host Steve Hilton said an investigation by his program found that Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, supported virus research that took place at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in spite of a ban on such research imposed by the Obama administration.
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