Speaking in an interview, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta differed with some of his CNN colleagues who mocked former CDC Director Robert Redfield’s claim that the origin of COVID-19 was the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In an interview with Gupta in January that aired in full in late in March, Redfield stated, “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.”
“I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human,” he added. “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.”
The Daily Mail noted, “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.” Meanwhile, 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 Gupta told Mediaite in an interview last week, “There’s reason to suspect that this is the origin of the virus.”
Mediaite prompted Gupta by asking about interviews he had conducted, saying, “The biggest news, I thought, that came out of those interviews was former CDC Director Robert Redfield. His claim that he thought it was most likely that COVID had escaped from a lab in China as opposed to having lept from bat to animal to human at a wet market. And that has been treated by many in the media as a conspiracy theory. What do you think of his opinion? He is an experienced virologist.”
“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 answered. “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.”
“It’s still an opinion, but the thing that sort of struck me … these interviews were 20-plus hours of interviews. … Ultimately you’ve got to distill it down,” Gupta continued. “You have to get rid of 18 hours of it. It’s like picking favorite children. But one of the reasons that it was so long is because that part of the discussion around China, I must have asked the question a dozen different ways, and I gave a lot of escape hatches to him to really clarify, ‘Well, it’s anybody’s guess, whatever.’ And he hedged a little bit, he didn’t come out and say, “100%, this came from (Wuhan),” but he really was quite adamant that this is the origin of the virus.”
“And he doesn’t think it was man-made, as you know, he just thinks that the virus had been isolated and was being studied in this lab, been exposed to human cells, and then had an accident, the lab leaked,” Gupta noted. “I was not as shocked, as I think you’re alluding to by what he said as the fact that he said it, because it’s been out there for some time. I’ve been looking into this angle of the story for a while, looking at what happened at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, even pre-pandemic, some of the regulatory lapses there and all that; there’s reason to suspect that this is the origin of the virus. It’s the only — 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,” Gupta explained. “Also keep in mind that fourteen months now, fifteen months into this, we still don’t know for certain what the origin is. So I don’t think anybody who says, ‘Well, this obviously came from a wet market,’ you say, ‘Well, where’s the evidence behind that? There was lots of people who’ve never been to that wet market who became infected.’”
China has repeatedly denied that the virus came from the lab, insisting instead that the Wuhan wet market is where it first began to spread.
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