The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed he believes COVID-19 originated through an accidental escape from a Wuhan lab and hinted that this occurred following gain-of-function research by the Chinese scientists there.
Officials from both the Trump and Biden administrations have said the Chinese government worked to thwart investigations into the origins of the virus, which has killed 2.75 million worldwide, and the World Health Organization-China report is slated to be released at some point in the near future.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC director from March 2018 through January 2021 under former President Donald Trump, made his bombshell revelation about believing the coronavirus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology during an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which was previewed on CNN’s New Day on Friday morning. Redfield, a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Medicine, helped lead the Trump administration’s response to the deadly pandemic after spending decades working in virology, and he also revealed he believed the virus began transmitting in September or October in Wuhan, China.
“That’s my own view. It’s only an opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now,” Redfield said. “You know, I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathology in Wuhan was from a laboratory. You know, escaped. Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.”
Redfield added: “That’s not implying any intentionality. It’s my opinion, right? But I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology. I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human, and at that moment in time, the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission. Normally when a pathogen goes from zoonotic to a human, it takes awhile for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human to human transmission. I just don’t think this makes biological sense.”
When pressed on how he believed the virus became more efficient, he said it was likely due to work done at the lab, implying it may have been gain-of-function research.
“Let’s just say, I have coronavirus that I’m working on. Most of us in the lab are trying to grow virus. We try to make it grow better and better and better and better and better and better so we can do experiments and figure out about it,” Redfield said. “That’s the way I put it together.”
A State Department fact sheet released in mid-January contended that Wuhan lab researchers “conducted experiments involving RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar)” and that the lab “has a published record of conducting ‘gain-of-function’ research to engineer chimeric viruses.”
“The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses,” the State Department fact sheet said, arguing that “this raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was ‘zero infection’ among the WIV’s staff and students.”
The fact sheet also said that “despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution,” the Wuhan lab “has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.”
Dr. Shi Zhengli, known as “bat lady” for her work with coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab, denied this week that the Wuhan lab worked with the Chinese military and has denied in the past that COVID-19 could have escaped from there.
During an interview last week, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Washington Examiner that it is “a high-confidence assessment” that the Wuhan lab was working with the People’s Liberation Army.
Multiple other key Trump national security officials, such as former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, have defended the declassified U.S. intelligence too. Matthew Pottinger, the former deputy national security adviser, says a lab leak is the most likely scenario.
Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO group that investigated the coronavirus’s origins, said in late February that “we didn’t do an audit of any of these labs, so we don’t really have hard facts or detailed data on the work done” at the Wuhan lab.
While in Wuhan in early February, Ben Embarek said a jump from animal to another animal to humans was most likely and that an accidental lab release was “extremely unlikely” and didn’t merit further inquiry, but WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more studies were needed.
The Chinese government denies that the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab and in the past has used Chinese diplomats to push conspiracy theories that it started with the U.S. military.
Author : Jerry Dunleavy
Source : Washington Examiner : Trump CDC Director Robert Redfield says COVID-19 ‘most likely’ came from Wuhan lab