(CNN/Meredith) -- Former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield is now expressing his belief that the coronavirus accidentally began in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
Redfield also said if he were to make a guess, he thinks the virus started infecting people much earlier than initially thought. He thinks the virus started transmitting somewhere in September or October of 2019 in Wuhan.
In an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Redfield said he believes the most likely origin of the virus is that it escaped from a lab in Wuhan, not from a wet market.
“That’s my own feelings, and only opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now,” Redfield said. “Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. 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.”
It is also not unusual for that type of research to be occurring in Wuhan. The city is a widely-known center for viral studies in China – including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has experimented extensively with bat coronaviruses.
Redfield added that he is not implying the virus was created or spread intentionally.
“It's my opinion, all right, but I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology. I do not believe [the virus] somehow came from a bat to a human. And at that moment in time, the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission,” Redfield said. “Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonosis to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human-to-human transmission. I just don't think this makes biological sense."
The World Health Organization calls the “lab leak theory” that Redfield is suggesting “extremely unlikely.”