During an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” World Health Organization (W.H.O.) member Dr. Peter Daszak shot down the theory of an accidental laboratory leak being behind COVID-19’s origination.
Daszak, who led an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, told CBS’s Lesley Stahl that there was “no evidence” to back the theory that a leak led to the virus.
“For an accidental leak that then led to COVID to happen, the virus that causes COVID would need to be in the lab. They never had any evidence of a virus-like COVID in the lab,” Daszak advised.
Stahl replied, “They never had the COVID-19 virus in that lab?”
“Not prior to the outbreak, no,” Daszak stated. “Absolutely no evidence of that.”
Stahl pressed Daszak on the popular theory.
According to Daszak, it is “extremely unlikely” the virus originated in a lab. He said the investigative team at W.H.O. asked the members of the Wuhan lab “tough questions,” and they provided “believable” and “convincing” answers to dispel that theory.
Partial transcript as follows:
DASZAK: We met with them. We said, “Do you audit the lab?” And they said, “Annually.” “Did it you audit it after the outbreak?” “Yes.” “Was anything found?” “No.” “Do you test your staff?” “Yes.”
STAHL: But you’re just taking their word for it.
DASZAK: Well, what else can we do? There’s a limit to what you can do and we went right up to that limit. We asked them tough questions. They weren’t vetted in advance. And the answers they gave, we found to be believable, correct and convincing.
STAHL: But weren’t the Chinese engaged in a cover-up? They destroyed evidence, they punished scientists who were trying to give evidence on this very question of the origin.
DASZAK: Well, that wasn’t our task to find out if China had covered up the origin issue.
STAHL: No, I know. I’m just saying doesn’t that make you wonder?
DASZAK: We didn’t see any evidence of any false reporting or cover-up in the work that we did in China.
STAHL: Were there Chinese government minders in the room every time you were asking questions?
DASZAK: There were Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff in the room throughout our stay. Absolutely. They were there to make sure everything went smoothly from the China side.
STAHL: Or to make sure they weren’t telling you the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
DASZAK: You sit in a room with people who are scientists and you know what a scientific statement is and you know what a political statement is. We had no problem distinguishing between the two.
Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent