Ex-CDC Director Says He Was Flooded with Death Threats from Scientists for Supporting Lab Leak Theory


The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, said he received death threats from scientists after he told CNN he believed the coronavirus pandemic 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.”

The death threats allegedly came after Redfield spoke with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta in March.

“I’m allowed to have opinions, now. … I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory — you know, escaped. Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine,” Redfield said.

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“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.”

Redfield told Vanity Fair his inbox was flooded with death threats following the interview, including from strangers who said he was being racially insensitive and prominent scientists who once were his friends.

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One even told him to “wither and die,” he said.

The possibility that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was, until recently, roundly dismissed as a conspiracy theory by leading scientists and establishment media outlets.

In February 2020, soon after the first COVID-19 cases were detected in Wuhan, 27 scientists signed a statement in a highly respected medical journal saying that they “strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

China has also insisted that the WIV was not the source of the pandemic.

But the theory has abruptly gained favor.

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President Joe Biden last week ordered intelligence officials to “redouble” efforts to investigate the pandemic’s origins, including the possibility it escaped from a lab. British intelligence agencies are investigating the lab leak theory as well, according to The Times of London.

The World Health Organization called the theory “extremely unlikely” at the conclusion of an investigation last year. The U.S. and Britain have both asked WHO to take another look.

The Times cited an unnamed source familiar with the U.K. investigation who said it will be hard to ever get to the bottom of the pandemic’s true origins.

“The Chinese will lie either way,” the source said.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith