Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, left CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta stunned on Friday after saying COVID-19 likely escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.
The interview marked the first time he has shared his personal thoughts on the origins of the deadly virus, which John Hopkins University data attributes to more than 2.7 million global deaths.
“That’s my own view,” he told the CNN host. “It’s only an opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now.”
The network noted that Wuhan is a “widely known center for viral studies in China, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has experimented — extensively — with bat coronaviruses.”
“It is a remarkable conversation I feel like we’re having here,” Dr. Gupta said.
“That’s not implying any intentionality [on China‘s part], you know?” Dr. Redfield responded. “It’s my opinion, all 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 that came to the human became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission.”
Dr. Redfield noted that it’s “not unusual for respiratory pathogens” to infect lab workers.
In addition, he noted that viruses in nature tend to need much more time to “become more and more efficient” when they first infect humans.
“I just don’t think this makes biological sense,” he said of COVID-19’s efficiency. “Let’s just say I have coronavirus that I’m working on. Most of us in a lab are trying to grow a virus. We’re trying to help make it grow better and better and better and better and better and better so we can do experiments and figure out about it. That’s the way I put it together.”
The World Health Organization recently downplayed the possibility that COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology or any other labs in China.
Similarly, tech giants banned users who shared Dr. Redfield‘s views in 2020 by lumping such commentary in with unfounded conspiracy theories.