Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with CNN he thinks the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic was accidentally released from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Redfield offered no explanation for this belief other than to say as a virologist, he does not believe the virus could have been so contagious when it jumped directly from an animal to a person. Instead, he believes it was manipulated in a lab to become more contagious and then accidentally released by a laboratory worker in September or October 2019, several months before coming to public attention.
The World Health Organization, which has been investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, considers the lab-leak scenario so unlikely that it discontinued research in that hypothesis.
W. Ian Lipkin, director of the center for infection and immunity at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said that while it is theoretically possible the virus originated from a lab leak, there are other much more plausible explanations.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also cast doubt on Redfield’s comments Friday, saying most public health experts believe it is possible that the virus became well adapted to spread among humans without having been released from a lab and by circulating undetected for months.
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