Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Sunday urged the importance of finding out how the coronavirus pandemic started, including investigating the possibility that it emerged from a Chines lab in Wuhan, in order to prevent similar occurances from happening in the future.
“Even here in the United States, we've had mishaps," Gottlieb told CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
"And in China, the last six known outbreaks of SARS-1 have been out of labs, including the last known outbreak, which was a pretty extensive outbreak that China initially wouldn't disclose that it came out of lab.”
Gottlieb, who served as FDA commissioner under former President Donald Trump and has just finished work on his book, “Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed US and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic,” explained that “if we assess that there is a probability or a possibility that this came out of a lab, it's going to affect how we respond to this. We're going to need to focus on trying to get better controls in this sort of high risk research going forward and get better controls over these BSL-4, these high security labs that conduct this research.”
He emphasized that “it's important to understand what the possibility is that this came out of a lab so we could focus more international attention on trying to get better inventories around these labs, what they're doing, better security, make sure they're properly built."
Gottlieb also pointed out that “we need to also look at public health through the lens of national security. This was an asymmetric harm to the United States. COVID hurt the US a lot more than it hurt many other countries. And that's another thing I talk about in the book, looking at these kinds of risks through the lens of national security, including getting our intelligence services more engaged in this mission.”
The Chinese, he said, know the answer to the origin of the pandemic, “because they would have blood samples from the workers in that lab. And that's the evidence that they haven't made public. If, in fact, the blood samples show that a high prevalence of people in that lab have been exposed to this virus, that's pretty definitive proof that this coursed through that lab. And they would also have the samples from the time that they were first drawn, which was the time when they had those illnesses.”
He added that “there's no question that when they had an outbreak of an illness in that lab that they would have done routine blood sampling in that lab. That's just normal controls in a lab of that quality. So they would have that information.”
Gottlieb acknowledged that “we may never really determine with precision whether or not this came out of a lab… unless we get very lucky and we either find the intermediate host, we find a colony of civet cats or pangolins where this is epidemic and it could have first spilled over into humans, or we have a whistleblower in China or regime change, which we're not going to have.”
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