Dr. Anthony Fauci labeled the theory that former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield shared with CNN that the novel coronavirus spread earlier and "escaped" from a lab in China as just “an opinion.”
“Obviously, there are a number of theories,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, during a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing on Friday. “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.”
Redfield expressed his opinion in a CNN documentary clip released Friday that he believes the novel coronavirus began transmitting in fall 2019 and that the virus may have originated in a lab in China.
This is earlier than the understood timeline of the pandemic and shows his belief in what’s considered a politically charged and unproven theory about how the coronavirus first emerged.
“If I was to guess, this virus started transmitting somewhere in September, October in Wuhan,” Redfield told Gupta in a clip that aired Friday on CNN New Day. “That's my own feelings. And only opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now.”
Redfield, a virologist who led the CDC under former President Donald Trump, said he thinks the virus originated inside a lab in China and “escaped,” not necessarily intentionally.
Fauci said Friday there are other public health officials who believe the virus could have been spreading in the community in China for several weeks, if not a month or more, before it was recognized in a lab. “If that were the case, the virus clearly could have adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time up to an at the time, it was recognized.“
The current CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said during the Friday briefing that she doesn’t have any indication “for or against” either of the hypotheses Fauci shared.