Donald Trump’s CDC Director Robert Redfield disclosed that he actually received “death threats” from other scientists when he discussed the theory that the novel coronavirus developed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
In a new interview in Vanity Fair, entitled “The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins,” Redfield shared the disturbing bit of information.
By spring of 2021, the debate over COVID-19’s origins had become so noxious that death threats were flying in both directions.
In a CNN interview on March 26, Dr. Redfield, the former CDC director under Trump, made a candid admission: “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.” Redfield added that he believed the release was an accident, not an intentional act. In his view, nothing that happened since his first calls with Dr. Gao changed a simple fact: The WIV needed to be ruled out as a source, and it hadn’t been.
After the interview aired, death threats flooded his inbox. The vitriol came not just from strangers who thought he was being racially insensitive but also from prominent scientists, some of whom used to be his friends. One said he should just “wither and die.”
But it wasn’t just strangers who threatened Dr. Redfield, he claims, it was also fellow scientists. Vanity Fair shared the revelation, while inserting its own biased, off-base commentary.
But for most of the past year, the lab-leak scenario was treated not simply as unlikely or even inaccurate but as morally out-of-bounds. In late March, former Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield received death threats from fellow scientists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had originated in a lab. “I was threatened and ostracized because I proposed another hypothesis,” Redfield told Vanity Fair. “I expected it from politicians. I didn’t expect it from science.”
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?
A better question is why the Communist Chinese government had authority over such a laboratory that received funding from the U.S. government, indirectly through the National Institutes of Health that Dr. Fauci ran? It is a question that is apparently so loaded that even scientists are willing to make death threats over the explosive implications.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.