If you ask the average person about how they think the SARS-CoV-2 virus came about, chances are they will say something like: “It started with an infected bat in a wet market in Wuhan, China and somehow managed to get into humans.” That is the theory that consistently has been promoted by many scientists and public health officials since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a COVID-19 pandemic. Certainly, that is the most well publicized theory being forwarded by the mainstream media, to the point where it has been accepted by many people as “settled science.”1 2 3 4 5 6 7
The fact, however, is that we still don’t know how or where the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated. There is the alternative theory that SARS-CoV-2 was manufactured in a laboratory in Wuhan—specifically the Wuhan Institute of Virology—and that the virus somehow managed to escape from the lab and began to infect people. That theory has been backed by numerous scientists, including acclaimed French virologist and Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier, PhD; Chinese virologist Li-Meng Yan, MD, PhD and, more recently, Robert Redfield, MD, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).8 9 10 11 12 13
Redfield Believes SARS-CoV-2 Virus Escaped from Chinese Lab
… That’s my opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now. I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped. Now, 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 the laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.11 14
I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human. And at that moment in time, the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human to human transmission. Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonotic to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human to human transmission.11 14
Watching the television interview, it became apparent that Dr. Redfield was somewhat uncomfortable. Perhaps he was aware that his view on the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and, by extension, the COVID-19 pandemic, would be seen as controversial. His view that the virus was engineered in a lab has been discounted by many mainstream scientists and public health officials, including the very influential Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and labeled a conspiracy theory.
It was certainly clear from watching Gupta’s facial expression of incredulity and his fidgeting that he was having a hard time believing what he was hearing from the former head of the CDC. You could see by Dr. Redfield’s body language that he was not entirely at ease expressing his view and that he may have sensed he was placing his reputation and medical career in jeopardy because he was straying from the accepted party line on the “bat-in-the-wet-market” hypothesis. But he did not waver and refused to give any ground. He stressed somewhat defensively, “I’m allowed to have opinions now”11 14 and continued…
Most of us in a lab, when trying to grow a virus, we try 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.11 14
Lab Workers are Sometimes Accidentally Infected With Pathogens
Dr. Redfield noted, “It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect a laboratory worker.14 On Mar. 8, Politico published an article13 citing a press release issued by the U.S. State Department on Jan. 15, 2021 stating:
The United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.15
Dr. Redfield’s comments have had the effect of stirring up a hornet’s nest. Rather than welcoming his perspective as an avenue for further scientific debate about the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the comments have tended to be dismissed as unworthy of serious consideration because they were not accompanied by hard evidence—which, by the way, is also a problem for the “jumped out of a bat” theory. Dr. Fauci, who serves as the chief medical adviser to the Biden administration and key member of the White House COVID-19 Response Team, brushed off Dr. Redfield’s view as merely “an opinion.”16 He said:
Obviously, there are a number of theories. Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion as to a possibility, but again, there are other alternatives—others, that most people hold by.16
Lab-Origin Theory Labeled “Political Propaganda”
Virologist Angela Rasmussen, PhD of Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security placed that Dr. Redfield’s view in the category of “sometimes outright ridiculous conspiracy theories that spread faster than the virus itself.”17 18 In a paper that Dr. Rasmussen wrote in the journal Nature Medicine on Jan. 13, she referred to the “laboratory origin stories” have taken on a “new life as political propaganda, with wide-ranging, deeply harmful implications.”18
Virologist Robert Garry, PhD of Tulane University’s School of Medicine practically characterized some of Dr. Redfield’s comments about how the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have been manufactured in a lab as childish. He said:
That’s the way it would be in a movie or some sort of a thriller or a comic book. … It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus.18
Bear in mind that these rather superficial criticisms are being leveled at not just another run-of-the-mill scientist but a career medical doctor and virologist who ran the CDC from Mar. 26, 2018 to Jan. 20, 2021. It’s one thing to disagree with Dr. Redfield’s views, but odd to discount them in such a frivolous and cynical manner when it comes to a scientific question that remains wide open.19
All Hypotheses About Origin of SARS-CoV-2 “Remain on the Table” Says WHO
On Mar. 30, the WHO published a report on the possible origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and referred to the theory that the virus was transmitted from bats to humans through another animal as the most likely explanation for what happened. It described the lab leak theory as “extremely unlikely.”20 21 But the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus, suggested that the findings were inconclusive and that “all hypotheses remain on the table.”20 21 Ghebreyesus said:
This report is a very important beginning, but it is not the end. We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do. Finding the origin of a virus takes time and we owe it to the world to find the source so we can collectively take steps to reduce the risk of this happening again. No single research trip can provide all the answers.21
Redfield Accused of Spreading “Misinformation”
So why has there been such a lack of willingness to seriously consider the possibility or even the likelihood that SARS-CoV-2 was manufactured by researchers in a laboratory? Why so much reluctance to consider the idea of a lab accident, simple human error? And why such a rush to castigate anyone who is open to that possibility? Since March 2021, Dr. Redfield has been serving as the senior adviser for public health in the administration of Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan. At a press conference announcing Redfield’s appointment on Mar 2,, Governor Hogan said that Maryland was “very fortunate to have a renowned expert.”22 Hogan said:
He will advise us on our immediate priorities including planning our response to the coronavirus variants, our COVID-19 vaccine campaign, and our science-based plan for fully and safely reopening our state, as well as all areas of public health.22
Following Dr. Redfield’s CNN interview, there were calls by Maryland lawmakers for Redfield to resign from his position in the Hogan administration. The president of the Maryland Senate, Bill Ferguson, said:
Redfield’s comments were inappropriate, unacceptable and beyond unfortunate. A comment like this on national news is just not okay, and I am hopeful that the governor will ask Dr. Redfield to either retract or walk back that statement or clarify that statement. And if not I hope the governor does ask him to step away.23
Ferguson was followed by Maryland’s comptroller, Peter Franchot, who accused Dr. Redfield of peddling a “debunked Trump-era conspiracy theory” and of being “reckless and irresponsible” for publicly promoting what he described as “misinformation.”24
This has all the makings of a witch hunt. Not even former CDC executives are safe from censorship if they challenge “consensus science” based on questionable evidence.
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1 Achenbach J. Coronavirus came from bats or possibly pangolins amid ‘acceleration’ of new zoonotic infections. The Washington Post Feb. 7, 2020.
2 Fine Maron D. ‘Wet markets’ likely launched the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know. National Geographic Apr. 15, 2020.
3 Hayes P. Here’s how scientists know the coronavirus came from bats and wasn’t made in a lab. The Conversation July 13, 2020.
4 Kwong E. Where Did This Coronavirus Originate? Virus Hunters Find Genetic Clues In Bats. NPR Apr. 15, 2020.
5 Lyons S, Mitchell N. How did coronavirus start? Where did bats get the virus from and how did it spread to humans? ABC News Apr. 8, 2020.
6 Readfearn G. How did coronavirus start and where did it come from? Was it really Wuhan’s animal market? The Guardian Apr. 27, 2020.
7 Woodward A. Both the new coronavirus and SARS outbreaks likely started in Chinese ‘wet markets.’ Historic photos show what the markets looked like. Business Insider Feb. 26, 2020.
8 Baker N. The Lab-Leak Hypothesis For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one. But what if …? New York Jan. 4, 2021.
9 Connexion journalist. French Nobel prize winner: ‘Covid-19 made in lab’. The Connexion Apr. 22, 2020.
10 Latham J, Wilson A. The Case Is Building That COVID-19 Had a Lab Origin. Independent Science News June 2, 2020.
11 McNamara A. Former CDC chief says “most likely” cause of coronavirus is that it “escaped” from a lab. CBS News Mar. 27, 2021.
12 Musumeci N. Chinese virologist claims COVID was made in lab — but US studies don’t agree. New York Post Sept. 11, 2020.
13 Rogin J. In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened. Politico Mar. 8, 2021.
14 48HD Channel. Dr. Robert Redfield interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta 3.26.21. YouTube Mar. 26, 2021.
15 Pompeo MR. Ensuring a Transparent, Thorough Investigation of COVID-19’s Origin. U.S. Department of State Jan. 15, 2021.
16 Christensen J. Fauci says ex-CDC director Redfield’s belief that Covid-19 came from China lab was just “an opinion”. CNN Mar. 26, 2021.
17 Fox M. Lab leak Covid-19 theory is like something out of a comic book, virologist says. CNN Mar. 31, 2021.
18 Rasmussen AL. On the origins of SARS-CoV-2. Nature Medicine Jan. 13, 2021.
19 Wikipedia. Robert R. Redfield.
20 Associated Press. White House expresses concerns about WHO report on COVID-19 origin. PBS News Hour Mar. 30, 2021.
21 Press release. WHO calls for further studies, data on origin of SARS-CoV-2 virus, reiterates that all hypotheses remain open. World Health Organization Mar. 30, 2021.
22 Zantow E. Ex-CDC chief Redfield joins Hogan administration. The Washington Times Mar. 2, 2021.
23 The Washington Post. Redfield urged to step aside as Hogan adviser. Messenger-Inquirer Mar. 27, 2021.
24 Miller H. Maryland comptroller joins calls for Hogan, health department to sever ties with Redfield over COVID comments. The Baltimore Sun Mar. 30, 2021.
24 Shahzad M. Franchot Urges State to ‘Severe All Ties’ With Redfield After His Coronavirus Comments. Montgomery Community Media Mar. 31, 2021.