“I will say this – and I honestly mean this: I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to science,” Stewart said in part. “Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic, which was more than likely caused by science.”
In further comments, Stewart made fun of other theories pertaining to the origin of the pandemic, summarising them as “a pangolin kissed a turtle” or “a bat flew into the cloaca of a turkey and then it sneezed into my chili and now we all have coronavirus”.
On 26 May 2021, President Joe Biden said in a statement that US intelligence forces have “not reached a definitive conclusion on [the question of the origin of the pandemic]” and that he has asked for more information, to be delivered within 90 days of that date.
Speaking to TMZ Live, Dr Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, urged Stewart and others to be more prudent when discussing the potential origin of the pandemic.
“Right now, the reality is there is no smoking gun to say that it’s of laboratory origin,” he said, adding that “it’s not impossible”, but more information is needed at this stage.
“They’re putting the entertainment value of this above what’s reality,” Dr Hotez added. “It causes a lot of damage because a number of scientists who work on coronaviruses including myself feel that we’re under attack right now.”
Dr Hotez said the scientific community “is open to the idea”, adding: “But what I object to is the fact that they make it sound like it’s fait accompli when in fact it’s the less likely hypothesis of how Covid-19 originated.”
The Independent has contacted Stewart’s representatives for comment.