Virologist Dr. Robert Redfield said he thinks the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) was modified by Chinese scientists before it leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China’s central Hubei province. The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added that the COVID-19 virus’s ability to jump from an animal to a human is not “biologically plausible.” While earlier reports claimed that the pathogen came from bats, newfound evidence suggests it originated in the WIV lab, which has sparked an ongoing debate.
Redfield doubled down on his belief of the lab leak theory in a June 15 interview with Fox News contributor Dr. Marc Siegel. He said that the virus’s ability to spread rapidly has never been seen in other coronaviruses. And while most coronaviruses can cross over from animals to humans, zoonosis usually occurs at a much slower pace than what was seen with the Wuhan coronavirus.
“I said before that I didn’t think it was biologically plausible that COVID-19 went from a bat to some unknown animal into [humans], and now had become one of the most infectious viruses. That’s not consistent with how other coronaviruses have come into the human species,” said Redfield, who suspects that the COVID-19 virus, although unintentionally leaked, had undergone genetic tweaks.
“There’s an alternative hypothesis that it went from a bat virus [and] got into a laboratory, where … it was taught [and] educated. [It then] evolved … [and] became a virus that could efficiently transmit [from] human to human,” explained Redfield.
According to Siegel, Redfield had a hunch that the Wuhan coronavirus leaked from the WIV laboratory as early as January 2020. However, the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the time was focused on what was happening in country.
Former President Donald Trump and his supporters received criticism for espousing the lab leak theory in 2020. Just recently, President Joe Biden ordered the closure of a state department investigation led by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the possibility. But as evidence supporting the theory came to light, Biden himself announced a new 90-day investigation on the matter.
In his interview with Siegel, Redfield also took a swipe at infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. Redfield compared the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to a “dog holding on tightly to a bone” with his insistence on COVID-19’s natural origins.
“Other individuals – Tony Fauci, for example – would prefer to support that it evolved from nature. I think Tony is holding on to this [theory] tightly. Why would that be? Sometimes, scientists bite into a bone on a hypothesis. It’s hard for them to move on,” the former CDC director commented.
True enough apparently, as recently publicized emails from the infectious disease expert showed his staunch support of the coronavirus’s natural origins theory. One email sent to him back in January 2020 warned that the COVID-19 virus appeared to be “possibly engineered” upon closer scrutiny — a warning Fauci seemed to have dismissed, as the NIAID director never once mentioned this information in any of his interviews. (Related: Immunologist tells Fauci that Wuhan coronavirus looks engineered – as early as January 2020.)
In his email to Fauci, Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Institute in California, wrote: “On a phylogenic tree, the virus looks normal and the close clustering with bats suggest [they] serve as the reservoir. [One] has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features ‘potentially’ look engineered.” Andersen also said that he and other scientists found the Wuhan coronavirus’s genome “inconsistent with expectations from [the] evolutionary theory.”
Fauci’s firm denial of the possibility that the COVID-19 virus was engineered is also clear in another correspondence sent by World Health Organization (WHO) investigator Peter Daszak. In an April 2020 email, Daszak thanked Fauci for publicly insisting that COVID-19 had natural origins. “I just wanted to say a personal thank you … for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release.” (Related: Email: Researcher who funded Wuhan lab admitted to manipulating coronaviruses, thanked Fauci for dismissing lab leak theory.)
Aside from Fauci, Redfield also took a swipe at the WHO, which he claims was “highly compromised” by China. He slammed the global health body for not cracking down on the communist country and letting Beijing dictate the terms of its probe into the origins of COVID-19. “I think [the WHO is] highly compromised. Clearly, [it was] incapable of compelling China to adhere to the treaty agreements … on global health.”
Redfield ultimately acknowledged that he should have pushed harder for the CDC to be permitted inside the WIV laboratory when the virus first emerged. Redfield was appointed as CDC director in 2018 and was replaced by Dr. Rochelle Walensky in January 2021 after President Biden assumed office.
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