Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says he’s unpersuaded by recent reporting that raccoon dogs at a wet market in Wuhan, China, may have launched the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s important, first, they didn’t show the raccoon dogs were actually infected,” said Redfield in an interview on Rising, the YouTube show I host for The Hill. “What they showed is they could have DNA from raccoon dogs on swabs that also had the COVID-19 virus. It’s not unusual for animals to be infected as opposed to being the intermediate reservoir.”
Redfield proceeded to criticize both Anthony Fauci—former COVID-19 adviser to the White House and a key figure at the National Institute of Health (NIH)—and the national news media for stigmatizing the theory that the virus may have emerged as the result of a lab accident rather than animal spillover.
“I think the whole approach, particularly by the leadership of NIH, was antithetical to science,” he said. “I stand by my testimony, and I know Dr. Fauci has some disagreement. But he’s incorrect.”
Both hypotheses should be pursued and vigorously investigated, according to Redfield.
Last month, the Energy Department concluded with low confidence that the lab leak theory was more compelling than the wet market theory. The FBI has reached a similar conclusion. Partly due to Fauci’s influence, government health advisers had initially settled on a zoonotic origin; as a result, some media outlets described lab leak as a fringe idea, embraced by conspiracy theorists.
“There’s a strong bias, in my view, toward trying to promote a spillover hypothesis rather than having honest scientific debate,” said Redfield.
Watch the interview below.