Richard H. Ebright, a Rutgers University microbiologist and biosafety expert, told me we must begin a difficult, uncomfortable conversation about this investigation’s scope and the vast implications if the theory is true. He said the entire genre of research Redfield was referring to, known as gain-of-function research (in which viruses are captured from the wild and developed in lab settings to make them more dangerous), needs to be thoroughly reexamined.
“The very fact that it could have been of laboratory origin, even if that cannot be substantiated, means we need to understand that there is risk in this research that may have triggered the current pandemic and surely could trigger a future pandemic,” he said…
If Redfield is right, that would mean China bears some accountability for the outbreak, which will greatly complicate already tense relations. If Redfield is right, that would also mean the U.S. government had a big role in supporting the research that resulted in the pandemic outbreak. If Redfield is right, the current response plan could greatly increase, not reduce, the risk of another pandemic.
These are all very unpleasant facts. But facts are stubborn things. And we have no choice but to pursue all possible theories and accept whatever truth the facts lead to. This must be done in a nonpolitical way, to show Beijing and the world that we still have the ability to place public health and truth above the narratives to which we have become beholden.