Even with the information surfacing from a trove of Dr. Anthony Fauci's emails, it is hard to tell when he might have known about three scientists from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology being hospitalized in November 2019 before the Chinese announced the illness, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Friday.
"He obviously has a security clearance and gets briefed, but I'm not sure that what happened in November was known in November," Gottlieb, now a CNBC medical contributor, said on the network's "Squawk Box." "Some of this information may have been accrued on a lookback."
Meanwhile, Fauci has stood firm on his hypothesis that the coronavirus came from nature, not from lab engineering, although he has said he's keeping an open mind, Gottlieb said that is not unusual, considering Fauci's background as an immunologist.
"Tony, Dr. Fauci, was getting briefed by a lot of the folks in the scientific community who were virologists looking at the sequence and they didn't make a bad judgment," said Gottlieb. "They looked at the sequence that initially they had some concerns about, and on deeper analysis, they thought that the genetic diversity they saw in the sequence could have been derived from nature. There was nothing highly unusual about it. "
It's also not surprising that Fauci would have drawn conclusions from the information he was getting because the scientists "are his peers. Those are the ones who inform his judgment," said Gottlieb.
Meanwhile, the former commissioner called on the nation's intelligence agencies, which would have foreign investigation capabilities, to be involved in in the probe of the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, rather than rely on public health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which Fauci heads.
Historically, the intelligence agencies would not be involved in such a mission, but the public health agencies are not equipped to handle an investigation of the scale involved with the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.
Further, it is "plausible" for the NIAID to be involved in funding research so that it can get a look at what is going on inside labs in other countries like China, Gottlieb said, because technically, the NIAID is there to research diseases, not gather intelligence.
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