Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under former President Donald Trump, Robert Redfield said in an interview on Sunday that he believes COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory. Redfield’s comments have been denounced by the larger medical community as baseless, dangerous speculation.

“I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory. Escaped,” said Redfield. “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 a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.”

“That’s my own view. It’s only an opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now,” Redfield added.

Redifeld’s comments are in direct contradiction with the World Health Organization (WHO), which assessed in February that it is “extremely unlikely” that COVID-19 leaked, or was created in a lab. The current scientific consensus on COVID-19’s origin is that the virus was transmitted by an animal.

“I think what he likely was expressing is that there certainly are possibilities … of how a virus adapts itself to an efficient spread among humans,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a later interview about Redfield. “One of them is in the lab. And one of them — which is the more likely, which most public health officials agree with — is that it likely was below the radar screen, spreading in the community in China for several weeks, if not a month or more, which allowed it when it got recognized clinically to be pretty well-adapted.”

Redifeld specified that his comments do “not [imply] any intentionality” on the Chinese government, but that he does not believe“somehow came from a bat to a human and, at that moment in time … became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity, for human-to-human transmission.”

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