Former Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield on Thursday told Vanity Fair he received death threats from other scientists for saying he suspected COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Redfield told Vanity Fair the death threats came after he told CNN in March, "I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped."
"I was threatened and ostracized because I proposed another hypothesis," Redfield, a virologist by trade, told the magazine. "I expected it from politicians. I didn't expect it from science."
Once dismissed as a conspiracy theory, the idea the novel coronavirus escaped from the Wuhan lab is gaining attention. Vanity Fair's report claims the U.S. government stood in the way of even discussing the theory.
Former assistant Secretary of State Thomas DiNanno, a Trump appointee, alleged that staff within the department had warned leaders "not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19" because it could "open a can of worms."
In another document dated Dec. 9, an official warned colleagues not to ask questions about Wuhan labs' coronavirus research, as it would call attention to U.S. government support for that research.
The warnings "smelled like a cover-up," DiNanno told Vanity Fair, "and I wasn't going to be part of it."
David Asher, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who ran the State Department's day-to-day COVID-19 origins inquiry told the news outlet it became clear that "there is a huge gain-of-function bureaucracy" inside the federal government.
A former U.S. health official told Vanity Fair it was too coincidental an institute "funded by American dollars is trying to teach a bat virus to infect human cells, then there is a virus" in the same Chinese city.
The official told the magazine it was "not being intellectually honest not to consider the hypothesis" of a lab leak of COVID-19.
Even Vanity Fair's report admitted its bias against views shared by former President Donald Trump or those who were appointed by him, like Redfield.
"With President Trump out of office, it should be possible to reject his xenophobic agenda and still ask why, in all places in the world, did the outbreak begin in the city with a laboratory housing one of the world's most extensive collection of bat viruses, doing some of the most aggressive research?" Vanity Fair wrote.
Rutgers University's Dr. Richard Ebright told Vanity Fair it took him "'a nanosecond or a picosecond" to suspect the link to the WIV, noting bat coronavirus research was done in "three places" – Wuhan, China; Galveston, Texas; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina – and "not a dozen cities."
President Joe Biden last week directed the U.S. intelligence community to redouble their efforts in investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and report back to him in 90 days.
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