Outgoing NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins on Sunday called the Wuhan lab-leak theory a “huge distraction” for the country despite there being “no evidence” to back it.
Collins appeared on Fox News on his last day in office after more than a decade in the agency’s top position.
“I’m really sorry that the lab leak has become such a distraction for so many people because frankly, we still don’t know,” Collins said.
“There is no evidence really to say. Most of the scientific community, myself included, think that is a possibility, but far more likely, this was a natural way in which a virus left a bat, maybe traveled through some other species and got to humans,” he continued.
“We don’t know unless China decides to open up on this which they have not done, and shame on them for that,” Collins said, reiterating that this has been “a huge distraction.”
“We in this country have somehow gotten all fractured into a hyperpolarized politicized view that never should have been mixed with public health,” he continued. “It has been ruinous and history will judge harshly those people who have continued to defocus the effort and focus on conspiracies and things that are demonstrably false. Shame on all of us that we’ve gotten into this kind of pickle.”
In terms of the omicron variant, Collins said the U.S. should prepare for a “world of trouble” over the next couple of months due to its high transmissibility.
“I am hopeful that this is an indication that while incredibly contagious, this virus may be a bit less likely to make people sick,” Collins said about data showing milder symptoms. “Obviously that is something we have got to hope for, or our health systems are going to be overwhelmed.”