June 23, 2021

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Scott Gottlieb says COVID-19 origin debate shows U.S. needs to treat public health as national security matter

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Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Sunday addressed the debate over COVID-19 origin theories, telling CBS News’ John Dickerson why he believes it’s important to fully investigate whether the coronavirus may have spread following an accidental leak from a lab in Wuhan, China (rather than jumping from an animal host in a natural environment).  

Gottlieb — who noted that lab leaks are not entirely uncommon, whether in China or the United States — said 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.” 

But he added that the question, which Gottlieb acknowledged may never be answered, should also prompt the U.S. government to “look at public health through the lens of national security” and get the country’s intelligence services “more engaged in this mission,” as opposed to the more traditional route of relying on “international conventions” and “multilateral agreements to try to assess the risks and try to uncover these kinds of outbreaks.”

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