CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has broken ranks with his network to voice support for former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield’s belief that the virus that causes COVID-19 most likely escaped accidentally from a lab in Wuhan.
Last month, Redfield opened up in an interview with Gupta for a CNN special, saying he believes an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is the ‘most likely’ origin for the coronavirus pandemic.
CNN commentators sneered at Redfield’s opinion, with the network in one tweet insisting there was ‘a lack of clear evidence’ for the lab escape theory, but Gupta backed Redfield up in an interview published on Thursday.
‘He’s an experienced virologist. He was also head of the CDC at the time this was happening, which means that in addition to everything that we know, he had access to raw data and raw intelligence that was coming out of China,’ Gupta told Mediate’s The Interview podcast.
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta now says that he finds Dr. Redfield’s theory about a lab-escape origin of COVID-19 ‘informed’ and ‘the most likely’ scenario
Redfield, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made headlines last month by saying he believes COVID-19 ‘escaped’ from a virology lab in Wuhan, China
‘My point is that it’s a much more informed sort of thing for him to be saying than for anybody who may have expertise in virology, because he has a lot more knowledge and information that he has that maybe he can’t share, but is informing his opinion,’ said Gupta.
‘I was not as shocked by what he said as the fact that he said it,’ Gupta said. ‘There’s reason to suspect that this is the origin of the virus.’
‘It’s a big virology lab right in Wuhan that happened to be studying bat coronaviruses. Just from an Occam’s razor standpoint, finding the simplest explanation, it would make sense,’ he said, adding, ‘We still don’t know for certain what the origin is.’
China has furiously denied that coronavirus escaped from its lab, instead placing the blame on a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan, where live animals could have transmitted the virus to humans.
In his interview, Gupta pointed out that there was also no solid evidence pointing to the wet market as the origin, and questioned the likelihood of that theory.
Redfield made headlines last month with his explosive interview with Gupta, when he said: ‘I’m of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory… escaped. Other people don’t believe that, that’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out.’
China insists the virus crossed to humans from animals at a wet market, but Redfield believes the most likely origin is accidental escape from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (above)
‘It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in laboratories to infect the laboratory worker,’ he said.
‘That’s not implying any intentionality. It’s my opinion, right? But I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci rushed to throw cold water on Redfield’s theory, insisting that the virus would have spread more quickly if it had already been exposed to human cells in a lab.
But the virus’ rate of spread was evidence cited by Redfield to support his opinion.
A team of World Health Organization-led investigators late last month released their report claiming that a lab leak was ‘extremely unlikely’ as a cause of the pandemic, but WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admitted that China withheld crucial data from the team.
The United States, the European Union and other Western countries have all called for China to give ‘full access’ to independent experts to all data about the original outbreak in late 2019.
One of the team’s investigators has already said China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the WHO-led team, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the global pandemic began.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying insisted that the WHO team had been given full access to the Wuhan lab, and called the country’s critics ‘unethical.’
Redfield was appointed CDC director by President Donald Trump
The WHO slammed China for not giving investigators full access to data from the Wuhan lab (seen in February), an allegation China denied and called ‘unethical’
More than 562,000 Americans have now died of COVID-19 since the pandemic broke out and there have been over 31 million confirmed cases across the country.
In January, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the WHO to fully investigate the possibility that the COVID-19 virus accidentally escaped from a Wuhan lab as he revealed new intelligence that he said raised troubling questions.
‘Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one,’ Pompeo said.
Among the new US intel that he cited included a claim that researchers at the lab fell ill in the fall of 2019 with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, that scientists there were working with a bat coronavirus that is 96.2 percent similar genetically to the virus that causes COVID, and that the lab has secret links to the Chinese military.
Pompeo also revealed that researchers at the Wuhan lab had been studying a bat coronavirus known as RaTG13 since ‘at least 2016’.
The RaTG13 strain was identified by the Wuhan lab as its genetically closest sample to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at 96.2 percent similarity.
The State Department said that the Wuhan lab obtained RaTG13 in a sample from a cave in Yunnan Province in 2013, after several miners there died of SARS-like illness.
Though the Wuhan lab has a published record of conducting ‘gain-of-function’ research on virus to enhance their lethality or transmissiblility, the State Department says the lab ‘has not been transparent or consistent about its record of studying viruses most similar to the COVID-19 virus, including RaTG13.’
Pompeo also asserted that despite ostensibly being a civilian institution, the Wuhan lab has worked on ‘secret projects with China’s military.’
‘The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017,’ Pompeo said.
He called on Beijing to allow the WHO investigation team free reign to pursue their inquiry, including access to the Wuhan lab.