In a new interview on The Howard Stern Show, Paul McCartney called for the shutdown of China’s wet markets in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak. The Beatles legend also described the practice of eating bats, which many believe is the source of COVID-19, as “medieval.”
McCartney’s strong comments came Tuesday during a discussion about the pandemic and the wet markets in China, where vendors sell live and freshly slaughtered animals. Some prominent officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have called for the closing of these businesses because of their alleged link to the spread of the coronavirus, and McCartney wasn’t shy about his support for that course of action.
“I really hope that this will mean the Chinese government says ‘OK guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here.’ Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats,'” Macca said, according to transcribed quotes in The Hollywood Reporter.
McCartney’s specific mention of bats is likely in reference to the theory that a human first contracted COVID-19 from a bat in the wet markets of Wuhan, China. The theory is just that, however — experts such as Professor Stephen Turner, head of the department of microbiology at Melbourne’s Monash University, don’t believe it’s “conclusive by any means.”
Nevertheless, McCartney doubled down and called for celebrities like himself to urge Chinese officials to close their wet markets. “It’s not a stupid idea, it is a very good idea,” he said. “They don’t need all the people dying. And what’s it for? All these medieval practices. They just need to clean up their act. This may lead to it. If this doesn’t, I don’t know what will.”
“They might as well be letting off atomic bombs because it’s affecting the whole world,” McCartney continued. “Whoever is responsible for this is at war with the world and itself.”
McCartney, a notable animal rights activist and longtime vegetarian, acknowledged that wet markets — which are central to food culture in China and other Southeast Asian countries — are important to many people, but emphasized that this tradition needed to change. He then compared their closure to the abolition of the slave trade.
“I understand that part of it is going to be: people have done it forever, this is the way we do things. But they did slavery forever, too. You’ve got to change things at some point.”
Outside of offering up impromptu health advice, the 77-year-old musician is gearing up to appear alongside Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and many others at Lady Gaga’s coronavirus concert this coming Saturday. Last Friday was also the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ breakup, which spurred McCartney’s robust solo career and the formation of his other band, Wings.
You can listen to McCartney’s full interview with Stern on SiriusXM’s website (which is currently offering a free trial through May 15th).