National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins on Wednesday called on China to "really open up" about coronavirus and to be more transparent so the world will know more about whether the deadly pandemic that killed millions had its beginnings in nature or if it was the result of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
"The lab leak hypothesis versus the natural origin, both are possible," Collins said on CNN's "New Day." "We don't have any information right now that's new to tell the difference between those. We call on China to really open up, which is something they have not done, and to be more transparent about what could be known there."
He added that if China is "offended by all of these insinuations, their best protection is to be transparent."
"Tell us what really happened," said Collins. "What about those workers who get sick in November 2019? Open up your lab books. Let's see what really happened."
He also slammed contentions made by former CDC Director Robert Redfield, who told Fox News in an interview this week that part of the difficulty in determining the origins of the coronavirus is that too many scientists decide on a theory and won't change their minds.
"Bob Redfield is a friend (but) on the front page of The Washington Post today is a report of a meeting that happened Feb. 1, 2020, that Tony Fauci and I were part of, where the experts on analyzing the genome sequence of this virus got together on a conference call to look at every detail to say, could this have been human engineered?" said Collins.
"Ultimately, after a lot of back and forth on a purely scientific basis with everybody's minds wide open, the conclusion was no. This is something that only nature could have engineered this way. It has too many features that humans never could have thought of. And that got published in a peer-review journal."
So, he said, he takes a "little bit of offense at the idea that the scientists had their minds closed. Our minds were open then. They're open now."
Collins also commented on the new Delta variant of coronavirus and its dangers moving forward.
"It's one more reason, if you're still on the fence, to go ahead and get vaccinated," said Collins. "This is a variant of considerable concern. It appears to be about 60% more transmissible, more contagious in other words, and especially so for younger people."
Delta has also "completely overtaken" the UK said Collins. "Data just published a couple of days ago from Scotland where this variant has completely overtaken the UK shows that people who get it are about twice as likely to end up in the hospital. So it's not only more contagious, it's more severe."
Some states now have 70% vaccine coverage, said Collins, but the "virus is racing too and now there's a new horse on the track called Delta, and it's coming up fast. Our best chance is to really activate this vaccination system to get us to the point where the virus is going to lose, which is what we all want."
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer "88% protection" against the Delta variant, said Collins, so it's important for people to keep getting their shots.
"A single dose is better than none, but it's only about a 33% protection from one dose, so if you're somebody who has already had that first dose and you are like, I'm not quite sure I need the second one, yes, go and get it," he added. "(Then) your immune system will be able to fight off this nasty Delta virus."
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