The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made waves Friday morning after telling CNN that he believes the coronavirus pandemic began in when the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China — and that it started months earlier than the U.S. knew.
What did he say?
Dr. Robert Redfield, who led the CDC during the surges of the pandemic, told CNN's Sanjay Gupta that it was his "opinion" that the novel coronavirus did not evolve naturally from animal to human but instead escaped a well-known pathology lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Axios pointed out in April 2020 that the WIV houses "the only facility in China permitted to handle the most dangerous known pathogens, including the Ebola and Lassa viruses," and is "home to the Chinese scientists who sequenced the complete novel coronavirus genome in early January  and who are now working on a vaccine."
"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," Redfield told CNN. "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," he said. "That's not implying any intentionality."
Redfield noted, “It's my opinion, right? But I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology."
What do the scientists believe?
Scientists and other experts have theorized that the highly contagious virus actually is a mutation from a virus that infects animals and believe it emerged from a wet market near the WIV.
Included among those experts are officials with the World Health Organization who claimed that it is "extremely unlikely" that the virus came from the Wuhan lab.
Redfield disagreed, saying, "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."
He added, "I just don't think this makes biological sense."
Though the government line has been that the coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan in December 2019, Redfield told CNN that he believes the virus was making its way around Wuhan as early as September 2019.
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