Shortly after the pandemic started in early 2020, many people began to ask, “Where is the CDC? Why are they not leading on this?” Criticisms of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have persisted throughout the pandemic, leading to a call to reorganize the agency by the current director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
But when the pandemic first began, the person in charge was Dr. Robert Redfield, a former Army physician and professor at the University of Maryland. Before running the CDC, Redfield had retired from the military after founding the Department of Retroviral Research within the U.S. Military’s HIV Research Program. He then moved on to co-found the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology and served as the Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Redfield is now the senior public health advisor to the state of Maryland and Governor Larry Hogan, and he recently helped start PDTi, a company working to distribute vaccines to resource-poor countries.
In a wide-ranging interview, Redfield explained what he saw while running the CDC during the early days of the pandemic, his attempts to get a CDC team into China, and his struggles with the NIH’s Anthony Fauci, who cut him out of meetings when Redfield said the government needed to investigate whether the pandemic started from a lab accident in Wuhan, China.
“Tony and I are friends, but we don’t agree on this at all,” Redfield told me. “The potential for conspiracy is really on the other side. The conspiracy is Collins, Fauci, and the established scientific community that has acted in an antithetical way to science.”
Speaking with me from his home in Baltimore, Redfield said that evidence in favor of a lab accident in China continues to accumulate and he expects more classified information to become public. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.