Public health officials were wrong to have rushed to extinguish the rumors about the lab-leak theory of coronavirus during the early period of its emergence, said former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a Sunday interview.

“The first thing is to recognize that there was too much of a tendency early on to dismiss this possibility of a laboratory leak,” Rice said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, June 6. “I think the press bears some responsibility for this. Well, ‘it had to be animal-to-human transmission,’ these were conspiracy theories about a laboratory leak.”

Adding that she was the national security adviser under former President George W. Bush, Rice went through a similar situation with the Chinese government’s habit of remaining obscure on the viruses that emerge from their region. The Bush administration faced the resurgence of SARS in 2003, also a respiratory disease that came from China.

“It was the same problem. We knew something was happening. We couldn’t get answers from the Chinese,” Rice said. “And so, if we’re not going to keep repeating this problem … we’re going to have to be a little bit more aggressive with the Chinese about the need to cooperate.”

“But I think we made a mistake earlier on in many, many people, many officials dismissed this possibility,” the former Secretary of State continued.

Last year when COVID-19 started to reach world influence, the government where it first surfaced insisted that the virus came from natural evolution and found its way to human infection through a wild animal trade market in Wuhan province of China.  

Not everyone was convinced of that explanation, including President Donald Trump and his allies, who coined the disease the “Chinese Virus.” Yet, this accusation was later ridiculed as a conspiracy theory, with the White House’s health advisor Dr. Fauci confidently asserting that the virus “could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated” in May 2020.

The lab-leak hypothesis faced even more challenge earlier this year when Big Tech determined to cancel any mention of it, calling discussion over the origin of coronavirus a spreading of “misinformation.”

However, after months of trying to adhere to the Chinese endorsed narrative, even top officials in the US started to change their attitude in recent weeks, with Fauci in a late May interview stating he supported the investigation into the COVID-19’s genuine profile. 

Shortly afterward, President Joe Biden also publicly demanded the intelligence community invest a more robust effort into clarifying the accusations, giving them a timeline of 90 days to conduct the investigation.