The former head of the Food and Drug Administration said Sunday that the argument that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory has grown – while the theory of animal origins has “contracted”.
“The side of the ledger that suggests this might have come from a laboratory has continued to expand, and the side of the ledger that suggests this might be from a zoonotic source, in nature, really hasn’t moved . and if anything, you can argue that this page of the ledger has shrunk, ”said Dr. Scott Gottlieb in “Face the Nation” from CBS.
“We did a thorough search for this so-called intermediate host, the animal that could have hosted this virus before it spreads to humans. [and] we haven’t found any such animal, ”explained Gottlieb, who was the FDA commissioner from 2017 to April 2019.
“We also completely disproved the market, the grocery market that was originally involved in the outbreak as the source of the outbreak, so that side of the ledger has likely shrunk.”
The Chinese government could come up with “exculpatory” evidence showing that the virus that caused the pandemic did not leak from a laboratory in Wuhan, but they have not yet, Gottlieb said.
“China could provide exculpatory evidence here,” he said.
“They could provide the blood samples from those who worked in the Wuhan lab, they refused, they could provide the source strains, some of the original strains, they refused to do that, they could give access to some of the early ones Samples that we can sequence, they can provide an inventory of what was in the lab [at] The Wuhan Institute of Virology, the lab that was involved in a potential lab leak, refused to do so. “
Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer’s board of directors, said the news that his employees were infected with novel coronavirus-like symptoms in the fall of 2019 added credibility as the laboratory was “poorly controlled” and “high-risk research” on SARS-like ones Viruses carried out the once-maligned theory that COVID-19 has leaked from the facility
“This page of the ledger has expanded, and I think that’s why the focus is on it again,” he said of laboratory leak theory.
If the theory has been judged likely by experts, it could lead to heightened security measures in laboratories where people conduct virus research, he said.
“It is important to understand what the possibility is that this came from a laboratory so that we can focus more international attention on getting better inventories of these laboratories, getting better safety and making sure they are properly built”, said Gottlieb.
But when it comes to dealing with the spread of the virus, Gottlieb said knowing whether it started in a laboratory or in animals wouldn’t change much.
“I think what we know about the virus we already know about the virus,” he said.
“To be honest, we won’t learn anything about the properties of the current virus if we know its origin. We have enough experience with this virus to fully understand it. “
Gottlieb’s comments come as House Republicans and Democrats are pushing for legislation to investigate the origin of the virus.
Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in November 2019 fell ill with “symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and a common seasonal illness,” the Wall Street Journal reported on May 23.