Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday blew off claims from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab, saying Redfield was merely expressing an “opinion.”
During the White House coronavirus briefing, Fauci said the virus that causes COVID-19 was likely already spreading in China weeks before it was detected — which helped it become more contagious.
“The alternative explanation … is that this virus was actually circulating in China, likely in Wuhan, for a month or more before they were clinically recognized at the end of December 2019,” Fauci explained. “If that were the case, the virus clearly could’ve adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time up to and at the time it was recognized.”
In a new interview out Friday, Redfield — who oversaw the CDC at the peak of the deadly global pandemic — said it was his “opinion” as a top virologist that SARS-CoV-2 “escaped” from the laboratory in Wuhan.
The origins of the highly contagious bug are widely accepted to have come from animals before it adapted to humans.
But Redfield said if that were the case, “it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human-to-human transmission.”
“I just don’t think this makes biological sense,” he added.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, reiterated Redfield’s comments that he was just expressing an opinion.
“So Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion to a possibility,” Fauci said, “but again, there are other alternatives, others that most people hold by.”
Asked to also weigh in, current CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said a report from the World Health Organization about the origins of COVID-19 is forthcoming.
“I don’t have any indication for or against either of the hypotheses that Dr. Fauci just outlined,” she said.
Additional reporting by Natalie Musumeci