The former head of the Food and Drug Administration said on Sunday that the likelihood COVID-19 originated in a lab is growing while the odds that the coronavirus was transmitted from animals to humans grow longer.
‘The challenge is that the side of the ledger that suggests that this could have come out of a lab has continued to expand,’ Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who served as then-President Trump’s FDA commission from 2017 until 2019, told CBS News.
‘And a side of the ledger that suggests that this could have come from a zoonotic source, come out of nature, really hasn’t budged.’
Gottlieb said that there is enough evidence to rule out the earlier theory that coronavirus originated from a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan.
Gottlieb added: ‘And if anything, you can argue that that side of the ledger has contracted because we’ve done an exhaustive search for the so-called intermediate host, the animal that could have been exposed to this virus before it spread to humans.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who served as then-President Trump’s FDA commission from 2017 until 2019, said on Sunday that the likelihood COVID-19 originated in a lab is growing while the odds that the coronavirus was transmitted from animals to humans grow longer
Gottlieb says China has key data that could shed more light on whether the coronavirus accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured in April 2020)
‘We have not found such an animal.’
Once dismissed as a fringe conspiracy theory promoted by the Trump administration, mainstream media has reversed itself in recent weeks as circumstantial evidence has surfaced indicating that it is possible coronavirus accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that lab technicians at the facility mysteriously fell ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as far back as November 2019 – just weeks before the virus began to spread in earnest in China.
The Chinese government did not officially report its first case of coronavirus until December 2019.
In the initial stages of the pandemic, it was speculated that the virus may have been spread from animals sold at a local ‘wet market’ in Wuhan.
But Gottlieb told CBS News on SUnday that this theory has now been ‘fully disproven.’
He said that China holds the key to understanding the origins of the virus. The government could provide evidence like blood samples of the lab technicians who fell ill as well as original source strains and early samples of the virus.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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.’
‘BSL-4’ is the highest biosafety level of containment for a laboratory.
Gottlieb said that lab leaks aren’t rare and that ‘mishaps’ have occurred – even in the United States.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that lab technicians at the facility mysteriously fell ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as far back as November 2019 – just weeks before the virus began to spread in earnest in China. The Chinese government did not officially report its first case of coronavirus until December 2019. The image above from the lab in Wuhan was taken in February 2017
He said getting to the bottom of what caused the pandemic is important since ‘we need to also look at public health through the lens of national security.’
‘This was an asymmetric harm to the United States,’ Gottlieb said.
‘COVID hurt the U.S. a lot more than it hurt many other countries.’
The former FDA commissioner warns the public may not ever know how the virus spread.
‘We may never really determine with precision whether or not this came out of a lab,’ he said.
‘I think what we’re likely to end up with is an assessment, a probability, 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.
‘I don’t know that we’re going to find out with certainty that this came out of a lab.’
Biden orders ‘unexamined evidence’ that could show coronavirus leaked from China lab to be crunched by supercomputers at 17 elite research facilities
President Joe Biden has ordered the government’s leading research laboratories to join the search for the true origins of the COVID-19 pandemic by sifting through a massive trove of previously unexamined data, according to new reports.
Biden on Wednesday ordered the 17 National Labs run by the Department of Energy to assist the intelligence community in a 90-day sprint to examine whether the virus leaked from a lab in China.
The government is not revealing exactly what kind of data is being submitted for analysis, but experts say it is likely previously gathered intelligence such as signal intercepts or biological evidence.
Intelligence agencies regularly collect more raw data than their analysts are able to effectively pore through, and the application of advanced algorithms to seek patterns in the massive data set could offer new breakthroughs.
President Joe Biden has ordered the government’s premiere research laboratories to join the search for the true origins of the COVID-19 pandemic
Equipment is seen at Livermore National Laboratory in California, one of the 17 National Laboratories to been called in to assist intelligence agencies in crunching data
‘We want the science to be a big part of this,’ the White House official told CNN. ‘We are going to use the full resources of our intelligence and scientific community to try to get to the bottom of this.’
Biden is also urging U.S. intelligence agencies and those of allies to hunt for new information that could shed light on whether China covered up a lab leak.
Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, said the Biden administration’s response was ‘better late than never, but far from adequate.’
‘Our intelligence community has been looking at this now for 15 months. They’ve done good work on it, but in the end the answer lies in the hands of Chinese communists, not people working for American intelligence agencies,’ he told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Cotton said that officials in Beijing have not been forthcoming about how the pandemic began. ‘We should be insisting that they come clean, that they provide us a clear and unvarnished look at what was happening in the Wuhan labs,’ he said.
Circumstantial evidence has long raised questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where researchers were known to be conducting experiments on bat coronavirus strains similar to the one responsible for COVID-19.
China insisted early and often that the virus did not leak from the lab, claiming that crossover to humans must have occurred at a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan that sold live animals.
Perhaps driven by animosity for Donald Trump, who embraced the lab leak theory early on, the mainstream U.S. media and academics heaped scorn on the possibility, calling it an unhinged conspiracy theory.
But new evidence, including reports of three workers at the Wuhan lab who fell seriously ill with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019, has forced a sober reassessment among doubters.
Frustration with China increased this week after Beijing said that it would not participate in any further investigations by the World Health Organization.
Researchers are seen at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Biden’s new 90-day probe will examine whether evidence supports the lab leak theory of the pandemic
Circumstantial evidence has long raised questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where researchers were known to be conducting experiments on bat coronavirus strains
Biden rebuked China in his announcement of the new intelligence review, calling on allies to help ‘press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence.’
UK intelligence agencies are assisting in Biden’s new 90-day intelligence review, a senior Whitehall security source told The Telegraph.
The source told the publication: ‘We are contributing what intelligence we have on Wuhan, as well as offering to help the American to corroborate and analyze any intelligence they have that we can assist with.’
British intelligence agencies have generally been skeptical of the lab leak theory, while Australia’s spies have been more open to it.
While Britain and Australia already share intelligence with the U.S. as part of the Five Eyes partnership, Biden’s new probe could prod them to redouble their focus on sharing evidence related to a possible lab leak.
Meanwhile, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and more than 200 of his GOP colleagues have also called for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to direct her Democrat-led committees to investigate China’s complicity in causing the COVID pandemic.
In a letter to the Democratic House Speaker, the Republicans said there is ‘mounting evidence the pandemic started in a Chinese lab’ and the Chinese Communist Party ‘covered it up’.
‘If that is the case, the CCP is responsible for the deaths of almost 600,000 Americans and millions more worldwide. These questions about the CCP’s liability are not a diversion, as you falsely claimed,’ the letter reads.
Daily Mail has been asking if the virus stemmed from a Wuhan lab since April 2020
The Daily Mail has consistently questioned the early consensus that COVID-19 was transmitted to humans from animals.
Our reporters have dug into the details and challenged the assumptions about how the pandemic originated.
APRIL 4, 2020:
Ministers fear that the coronavirus pandemic might have been caused by a leak from a Chinese laboratory, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Senior Government sources say that while ‘the balance of scientific advice’ is still that the deadly virus was first transmitted to humans from a live animal market in Wuhan, a leak from a laboratory in the Chinese city is ‘no longer being discounted’.
One member of Cobra, the emergency committee led by Boris Johnson, said last night that while the latest intelligence did not dispute the virus was ‘zoonotic’ – originating in animals – it did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory.
APRIL 15, 2020:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded that China ‘come clean’ following reports that coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory, not as a bioweapon, but as part of bungling experiments to prove that Chinese scientists were superior to Americans in identifying emerging virus threats.
It comes after President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the U.S. is trying to determine whether the coronavirus first crossed to humans accidentally during experiments with bats at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab.
After word of the outbreak finally became public, Chinese leaders were quick to blame Wuhan’s ‘wet market’ where wild animals — though not bats — are sold for consumption, leading one source to tell Fox News the debacle is the ‘costliest government coverup of all time.’
MAY 2, 2020:
Wuhan virus lab ‘cover-up’: Startling photos of scientists wearing little protection as they handle deadly bat samples vanish from website of Chinese institute at the centre of global suspicion over pandemic
Pictures which appear to show slack safety standards at the Chinese laboratory at the centre of international suspicion over Covid-19 have been systematically deleted from its website – as Donald Trump continues to ramp up the pressure on Beijing over its potential role in the outbreak.
During the past month, Wuhan’s Institute of Virology has removed photographs of scientists working in its laboratories and edited out references to visits by US diplomats who subsequently raised the alarm about the laboratory’s work on bats.
US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he had seen intelligence that gave him a ‘high degree of confidence’ that the global crisis had its origins in the institute – a month after The Mail on Sunday first revealed that British Cabinet Ministers had received classified briefings raising the possibility of a leak from the institute.
MAY 30, 2020:
China has become used to public confessions on television. But this time the words came from one of the nation’s top officials and had seismic global implications.
‘At first, we assumed the seafood market might have the virus, but now the market is more like a victim,’ said Gao Fu, director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gao’s initial analysis had made sense after previous outbreaks of zoonotic viruses (diseases that jump from animals to humans). Yet suspicion grew over the Chinese government’s failure to share data from animals sampled in the market following its early cover-ups.
JANUARY 2, 2021:
Matthew Pottinger, who is President Donald Trump‘s respected Deputy National Security Adviser, told politicians from around the world that even China’s leaders now openly admit their previous claims that the virus originated in a Wuhan market are false.
Mr Pottinger said that the latest intelligence points to the virus leaking from the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology, 11 miles from the market, saying: ‘There is a growing body of evidence that the lab is likely the most credible source of the virus.’
JANUARY 9, 2021:
The Chinese government is facing fresh accusations of a cover-up after officials deleted crucial online data about the laboratory suspected of being the source of Covid-19.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that hundreds of pages of information relating to studies carried out by the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology have been wiped.
Details of more than 300 studies, including many investigating diseases that pass from animals to humans, published online by the state-run National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are no longer available.
APRIL 24, 2021:
Scientists studying bat diseases at China‘s maximum-security laboratory in Wuhan were engaged in a massive project to investigate animal viruses alongside leading military officials – despite their denials of any such links.
Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal that a nationwide scheme, directed by a leading state body, was launched nine years ago to discover new viruses and detect the ‘dark matter’ of biology involved in spreading diseases.