Washington – Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that the “side of the ledger” suggesting COVID-19 may have emerged from a lab in Wuhan, China continued to grow as the debate on the origins of the virus rekindled. Last week.
“The challenge is that the side of the ledger that suggests it might have come out of a lab continued to expand. And one side of the ledger that suggests it might have come from a zoonotic source, coming out of nature, really hasn’t budged, “Gottlieb said in an interview with” Face the Nation. “” And if anything, you can argue that this side of the ledger has contracted because we did an exhaustive search of the so-called intermediate host, the animal that could have been exposed to this virus before it spread to humans. We have not found such an animal. “
The renewed attention to the origins of COVID-19 came after the Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China sought hospital treatment in November 2019 after falling ill. China, however, did not report the first case of the coronavirus until December 2019.
President Biden announced on Wednesday that he had ordered the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to investigate the source of COVID-19 and set a 90-day deadline to “collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion “on how the pandemic started.
While the president received a report from the intelligence community earlier this month exploring whether COVID-19 emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident, there is a rift between intelligence agencies, Biden said.
Gottlieb said the theory that the source of the coronavirus was a wet market in Wuhan has been “totally disproved,” and he stressed that China could provide evidence that would help identify its origins, including blood samples from it. ‘Wuhan lab employees, the original source strains and early samples of the virus that could be sequenced.
“If we assess that there is a likelihood or possibility that it is coming from a lab, it will affect how we respond to it,” he said. “We’re going to have to focus on trying to get better controls in this kind of high-risk research and getting better controls on these BSL-4s, these high-security labs that do this research.
Gottlieb said lab leaks are not uncommon and “mishaps” have occurred even in the United States. But he said it was important to understand the possibility that the coronavirus had come out of a lab in order to bring international attention to those facilities, including from intelligence services.
“We also need to look at public health from a national security perspective,” he said. “This was asymmetric prejudice to the United States. COVID has done much more harm to the United States than to many other countries.”
The pandemic effectively crippled the U.S. economy last year, with states ordering residents to stay in their homes and businesses shutting down to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. More than 594,000 people in the United States have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Gottlieb said knowledge of the origins of COVID-19 may not have affected the United States’ response to the pandemic and predicted that further investigation would likely lead to probability, not certainty, of how the virus appeared.
“We can never really determine with precision whether or not this is coming from a lab,” he said. “I think we’ll probably end up with an assessment, a probability, unless we’re very lucky and we find the intermediate host, we find a colony of civets or pangolins where it’s an outbreak and it might have. the first overrun on humans, or we’ve got a whistleblower in China or regime change, which we’re not going to have. I don’t know if we’re going to find out for sure that this came out of a lab . “