Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, has said that he received death threats from fellow scientists after he publicly aired his belief that COVID-19 may have originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Redfield told of the backlash he received from the scientific community after telling CNN in March that he believed COVID-19 accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In the March interview he told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta that “I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human,” explaining that “normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoo to a human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human to human transmission.”
Redfield did however note during his CNN interview that he didn’t believe that COVID-19 was intentionally released from a lab. Redfield told Vanity Fair that after his interview threats started flooding into his inbox from complete strangers who felt he was being racially insensitive, with others coming from prominent scientists, one of whom told him to “wither and die” Redfield went on to add that he “was threatened and ostracized because I proposed another hypothesis. I expected it from politicians. I didn’t expect it from science.”
The ‘lab leak’ theory has been gaining traction recently, despite being dismissed by many media outlets and experts at the start of the pandemic. On May 26th President Biden ordered his intelligence officials to delve deeper into the origins of COVID-19, “I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days.”
The Office of Director of National Intelligence confirmed that the intelligence community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios: either it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or it was a laboratory accident.” On the international stage the head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has also joined the growing calls for further investigation into the makings of the pandemic, and insists that all hypotheses still “remain on the table.”
The comments made by Redfield to Vanity Fair were published as part of a month’s long investigation into the origins of COVID-19, including interviews with more than 40 people and a review of hundreds of page of official U.S. government documents, including internal memos, meeting minutes and emails.