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Former CDC Director Robert Redfield defended the theory that COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab, arguing the deadly bug’s efficient human-to-human spread contradicted the behavior of other deadly coronaviruses with similar profiles — and was simply not “biologically plausible.”
“I said before that I didn’t think it was biologically plausible that COVID-19 went from a bat to some unknown animal into man and now had become one of the most infectious viruses,” Redfield said during an interview with Fox News.
“That’s not consistent with how other coronaviruses have come into the human species. And, it does suggest that there’s an alternative hypothesis that it went from a bat virus, got into a laboratory, where in the laboratory, it was taught, educated, it evolved, so that it became a virus that could efficiently transmit human to human,” he added.
Redfield, a 20-year veteran of the US Army Medical Corps who co-founded the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology, recently said leading scientists were among those who assailed him after a March 26 appearance on CNN during which he endorsed the “lab-leak” theory.
The virologist, who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the height of the pandemic, was interviewed along with Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center.
He argued that COVID-19’s efficient human-to-human spread contradicted the behavior of other deadly bugs, such as SARS and MERS, which first infected people through animal contact but spread at a much slower pace, Fox News reported.
Public calls to investigate the lab-leak theory — once dismissed in China and by many American media outlets as a conspiracy — have gained momentum after the Wall Street Journal reported that three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought treatment for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in late 2019.
Redfield expressed disappointment in what he described as a “lack of openness” in the scientific community to “pursue both hypotheses.”
“I’m just giving my best opinion as a virologist, and I don’t think it’s plausible that this virus went from a bat to an animal — we still don’t know that animal — and then went into humans and immediately had learned how to be human-to-human transmissible to the point of now causing one of the greatest pandemics we’ve had in the history of the world,” Redfield told Fox News.
Last month, President Biden said the US intelligence community had “coalesced around two likely scenarios” about the pandemic’s origins but had yet to reach a firm conclusion — and called on officials to present their best findings within 90 days.
Redfield also voiced doubt about the integrity of the World Health Organization, which concluded in a joint report with China that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.”
He argued the WHO was “too compromised” by Beijing’s influence to carry out a truly transparent probe.
“Clearly, they were incapable of compelling China to adhere to the treaty agreements that they have on global health, because they didn’t do that. Clearly, they allowed China to define the group of scientists that could come and investigate,” Redfield told the news outlet. “That’s not consistent with their role.”
Earlier this month, a former State Department official revealed in a bombshell report that staffers were warned against investigating the origin of COVID-19 because it would “open a can of worms.”
Thomas DiNanno, former acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, also told Vanity Fair that the warning “smelled like a cover-up.”
“I wasn’t going to be part of it,” he said.
A total of four former State Department officials described being warned against probing the “lab-leak” theory and repeatedly advised not to open up a “Pandora’s box,” the mag said.
During his appearance on CNN, Redfield said: “I’m of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathology in Wuhan was from a laboratory — escaped.”
“Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out,” he said.
“I could use the word ‘cover-up,’ but I don’t know that so I’m not going to speculate that,” Redfield added about China.
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