The World Health Organization was “too compromised” in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic to conduct a thorough investigation of the origins of the coronavirus, former CDC director Robert Redfield told Fox News on Tuesday.
“I think they were highly compromised,” Redfield said. “Clearly, they were incapable of compelling China to adhere to the treaty agreements that they have on global health, because they didn’t do that. Clearly, they allowed China to define the group of scientists that could come and investigate.”
The WHO has been criticized for its early response to the outbreak, including for its apparent deference to China. Health officials in Taiwan, which is blocked by China from joining the WHO, have criticized the organization for allegedly failing to communicate their warning that coronavirus was transmissible between humans.
The CIA reportedly concluded that China tried to prevent the WHO from declaring a world health emergency in January 2020, when reports of the coronavirus first emerged.
In the Fox interview, Redfield reiterated that his “professional opinion as a virologist” is that coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
“I didn’t think it was biologically plausible that COVID-19 went from a bat to some unknown animal into man and now had become one of the most infectious viruses,” Redfield said. “That’s not consistent with how other coronaviruses have come into the human species. And, it does suggest that there’s an alternative hypothesis that it went from a bat virus, got into a laboratory, where in the laboratory, it was taught, educated, it evolved, so that it became a virus that could efficiently transmit human to human.”
A WHO team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus was denied access to records at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of the laboratories in Wuhan that research coronaviruses. WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for further investigation of the lab-leak hypothesis following the probe.
“Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy,” Dr. Tedros said in March.
The only American on the WHO team was Peter Daszak, whose research non-profit EcoHealth Alliance funneled millions in NIH grant money to the Wuhan lab.