The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the virus that causes COVID-19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, according to a new interview.
Robert Redfield told CNN on Friday that it was his “opinion” that SARS-CoV-2 — the new coronavirus responsible for killing 2.7 million people globally — did not evolve naturally.
“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,” said Redfield, who led the CDC during the height of the pandemic. “Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out.”
Researchers believe the deadly and highly transmissible strain of coronavirus behind the global pandemic mutated from a virus that infects animals — namely, bats — to one that sickens humans.
But some believe the virus was somehow released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology — which is the only lab in China authorized to study the most dangerous known pathogens, according to Axios.
“It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker. … That’s not implying any intentionality,” Redfield said. “It’s my opinion, right? But I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology.
Robert Redfield believes the virus that causes COVID-19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, according to a new interview.Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
“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.”
SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in Wuhan in December 2019 — with many scientists believing it emerged at a wet market just under nine miles from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
But Redfield said he believes the bug was circulating as early as September or October of that year.
Some believe SARS-CoV-2 was somehow released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images
A probe by the World Health Organization concluded recently that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus stemmed from a lab accident — and that it likely originated in animals before it spread to humans.