Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during much of the Trump administration, said in an interview aired Friday that he believes COVID-19 likely originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, but he did not provide evidence to support the theory.
Redfield’s personal opinion is not in line with the prevailing scientific premise that the virus emerged either through animal-to-human transmission or shipment of frozen food products.
“I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory,” Redfield told CNN. “Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine.”
He said he didn’t think there was an intentional effort to leak the virus and that he believes COVID began to spread by September or October of 2019. When the menacing illness first came to the attention of the U.S. public in January 2020, it was thought to have emerged the previous month.
A team compiled by the World Health Organization visited the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan and is preparing a report on the virus’s potential source. The group has already said it does not consider a lab leak to be the most likely origin.
The compilation of the report has been controversial, and China has faced accusations of a lack of transparency with international investigators.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is located within 10 miles of the wet market believed by some to have played a role in sparking the pandemic, which has killed more than 2.7 million people around the world.
Redfield told CNN he was expressing “only opinion” as he cast doubt on the notion that “one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity” went from a bat to a human.
“Science will eventually figure it out,” he said.